Coal Black Horse by Robert Olmstead

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When Robey Childs's mother has a premonition about her husband, a soldier fighting in the Civil War, she does the unthinkable: she sends her only child to find his father on the battlefield and bring him home.

At fourteen, wearing the coat his mother sewed to ensure his safety—blue on one side, gray on the other— Robey thinks he's off on a great adventure. But not far from home, his horse falters and he realizes the enormity of his task. It takes the gift of a powerful and noble coal black horse to show him how to undertake the most important journey of his life: with boldness, bravery, and self-posession.

Coal Black Horse joins the pantheon of great war novels—All Quiet on the Western Front, The Red Badge of Courage, The Naked and the Dead.

About Robert Olmstead

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Robert Olmstead is the author of seven previous books. Coal Black Horse was the winner of the Heartland Prize for Fiction and the Ohioana Award, and was a #1 Book Sense pick and a Border’s Discover pick. Far Bright Star was the winner of the Western Writers of America Spur Award. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEA grant, and is a professor at Ohio Wesleyan University.
Published May 20, 2008 by Algonquin Books. 241 pages
Genres: History, War, Literature & Fiction, Westerns, Religion & Spirituality, Romance. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Coal Black Horse

The New York Times

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This novel confronts Gettysburg’s grim aftermath — 50,000 dead, wounded or missing, men in parts and pieces.

Apr 22 2007 | Read Full Review of Coal Black Horse


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A boy becomes a man by heading out into the middle of a war in search of his lost father. Sound familiar? There's a new version of the tale: Coal Black Horse, by Robert Olmstead. It is a sparely written quest story that can provide hours of rewarding reading.

May 24 2007 | Read Full Review of Coal Black Horse

Entertainment Weekly

Coal Black Horse (2007) In Robert Olmstead's Coal Black Horse Robey is just 14 when his eccentric mom, prompted by a grisly premonition, dispatches him to recover his father… 2007-04-10 Robert Olmstead ...

Apr 06 2007 | Read Full Review of Coal Black Horse

Bookmarks Magazine

The boy secures provisions—including the horse of the title (the blacksmith who gives the horse to Robey warns, "It’s a horse that leaves quite an impression.

Aug 02 2007 | Read Full Review of Coal Black Horse

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