My Latest Books
"TILL THE SUN GROWS COLD by John Bebout is a multi-layered story representing the grief of those who lost loved ones during the American Civil War, feelings of revenge, healing, and revival through love. Allen Cowles was robbed and killed while serving as a payroll train guard. As Merritt Cowles awaits the return of his son after the war, he receives a telegram notifying him of his son’s demise. After learning of potential foul play involved in his son’s death, Merritt acquires the services of the Pinkerton Detective Agency and meets the beautiful and charming Detective Kate Warne, who will help him track down his son’s killers. With the level-headed but brave Kate on his side, Merritt is confident he will find them and get revenge for his son’s death. Little does he know that revenge is a never-ending cycle of pain and loss.
"TILL THE SUN GROWS COLD is a fascinating, gripping, and entertaining novel. Kate and Merritt are strong characters who individually charmed me, but it’s their budding romance that kept me engaged from start to finish. The plot was unexpected and intriguing, and one message in particular resonated with me; the message about revenge and how it never ends. After seeking revenge for his son, Merritt feels no more satisfied; instead, the love between him and Kate appears to be the true source of his lust for life again. Revenge only resulted in more lives lost and no retribution for himself or his son. I loved reading this book; it is beautifully written, the story flowed effortlessly, and there was a clear direction and purpose in the plot."
--Readers' Favorite 5-Star Review
THE LIFE AND REDEMPTION OF TEDDY MILLER combines in one volume 'The Cause of Darkness' and 'The Light from Darkness' to tell the story of a young man's epic journey in search of love and redemption. There are tears, tragedy and a final reckoning which will forever change the course of his life. The young man, Teddy, travels from the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in Virginia to the tip of Florida and back during the last months of the American Civil War. Along the way, he encounters heroes and villains alike that test both his courage and his moral character.
The Life and Redemption of Teddy Miller
Praise for The Life and Redemption of Teddy Miller
I had no knowledge of this book prior to receiving it from Goodreads therefore no expectations of it being good or bad. It turned out to be great, imo […] Our story hero, Teddy, is a young teen when the tale opens, and his wisdom and maturity progresses as he becomes a young man. Mr Bebout does a subtle but masterful job demonstrating this. The story itself was a new and different perspective on the Civil War. Overall, a delightful read […] Goodreads 5-Star Review
[…] this book set in the time of the Civil War was exceptional. It is not focused on the fighting of the war, but the effects that the war has on one boy and his family. […] It was easy to connect with the characters, even those I didn't agree with. It was easy to feel like you were journeying the country and sea alongside Teddy. Goodreads 5-Star Review
It was amazing. I could not put this book down. The laundry is pulled up and I have a day's work of housekeeping to do! Rarely do I keep reading a book without wanting to stop. You know the author writes wonderfully when you feel like it is poetry. Goodreads 5-Star Review
This really deserved 4.5 stars. It was almost compelling, but I was able to put it down occasionally. It definitely held my interest and gave a very human and unusual perspective on the Civil War. Man's inhumanity juxtaposed with an equally innate goodness and generosity. This book qualities as a favorite for making me think. Goodreads 4-Star Review
The Full Story
I was born in Poughkeepsie, New York about 2 years after the last dinosaur died. Poughkeepsie lies in the beautiful Hudson River Valley, to which I attribute much of my esthetic sense; in truth, in my travels around the world, I have seen few places more beautiful. At 18, I left Poughkeepsie to seek an undergraduate degree at the University of Florida. If that seems an odd choice to you, it was because I imagined myself the next Jacques Cousteau and where better to study marine biology than Florida? But as the old saying goes, 'man proposes and God disposes.' The Vietnam War was hitting its peak the year I graduated from Florida, Lyndon Johnson did away with graduate deferments, and I was drafted. Long story short, I made it into the Navy 4-days before my scheduled Army induction date and spent the next 6-years chasing Russian submarines. But I had some time before I was drafted (no one would hire a young man with a 1-A draft classification for much of anything at that time) and I took some Geology courses at the State University of New York—New Paltz. I fell in love with Geology, hung up my speedo forever, and went to Penn State for my doctorate in Geology/Paleobotany after completing my Naval service.
Not much about writing so far, huh? But I authored or co-authored more than 2-dozen technical papers and articles during my 30-year career. If you are familiar with technical writing, you know how demanding it is for grammar, punctuation, and clarity. I consider it my MFA in creative writing. Over the years, the only other writing I did was poetry. But I was deeply affected by the Civil War monuments and battlefields in my new home in Virginia, and I studied the War obsessively. Soon, I began to imagine my own characters and how they would deal with the trauma of war. Thus, 'The Cause of Darkness' was born which won an eLit Bronze Medal for Historical Fiction. Eventually, it was followed by 'The Light from Darkness' and recently by 'Till the Sun Grows Cold.'
The Cause of Darkness
Always FREE with Kindle Unlimited!
Winner of the 2021 eLit Bronze Medal for Historical Fiction and the Literary Titan Silver Book Award, 'The Cause of Darkness' is the story of a 16-year-old boy named Teddy Miller set during the last full-year of the American Civil War. Teddy lives with his father and brother in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. They lead more-or-less normal lives even while the War rages around them. But everything changes when their farm is burned, and Teddy’s father is arrested and sentenced to hang for espionage. Teddy’s single-minded quest to save his father reads like a grand adventure, full of gun fights, horse chases and 19th century justice. There is even a beautiful Pinkerton detective who plays a major role in Teddy’s exploits. But nearly all the adult characters act solely in their own self-interest and few have Teddy’s welfare at heart. Left without adult guidance, Teddy takes actions to save his father which have consequences that he cannot fully comprehend; and it is the consequences of these actions that drive the novel to its conclusion.
In Praise of 'The Cause of Darkness'
WINNER: 2021 eLit Bronze Medal for Historical Fiction
WINNER: 2021 Literary Titan Silver Book Award
“Bebout deftly explores the complexities not only of war, but of family and neighbor relationships as well […] The author has created a strong protagonist who effectively evolves from naïve teen into a determined, resourceful man […] An engrossing and intricate war tale with a rousing young hero […] The ending should pique readers’ curiosity as to what comes next in Teddy’s intriguing story.” –Kirkus Reviews
“First of all, I must say that upon completion of this book, I was left in tears […] I keep wondering, is it possible to love someone so much that you let them die when they could be saved? […] The influence this book has had on me is primarily as a result of its plot and characterization. I was pleased that while the author told a story with an interesting plot, the characters were developed very well, and their relevance was evident […] There was nothing to dislike about this book […] As a result of how much I enjoyed this read as well as how well-written it was, I rate ‘The Cause of Darkness’ 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend this book to people who are interested in history and fiction stories.” – Online Book Club
“I enjoyed reading “The Cause of Darkness a Story of the Civil War” by John W. Bebout who in my opinion is a brilliant writer with an exceptional ability to describe scenes and characters as if you were personally in this fast-action historical fiction story. […] As I read this story, which is told in the first person, I felt the events unfolding were rising out of the book displaying all in a spectacular movie […] I liked the way the author steadily increased the tension and drama as this book progressed showing the grim realities and cruelties of war in a way that made me reflect on the extreme importance of peace in the troubled world we have today. The author clearly shows and gave me a reminder there is no humanity when it comes down to kill or be killed, as well as how extremely loving we can be […] I also felt this was one of the best historical fiction stories I have ever read with exceedingly high tension as well as low points all mixed with dramatic twists and turns which produced a cornucopia of emotions […] . I also found the story intriguing, dramatic and entertaining written by a very gifted author. Highly recommended!” –Bruce Miller, Team Golfwell. Independent Book Publishers’ Association
“John Bebout’s historical fiction thriller, ‘The Cause of Darkness’ is an exciting and enthralling coming of age tale set in the Shenandoah Valley and Washington D.C. […] Teddy’s story is a tragic one, and his coming of age is accomplished at the worst of times. Watching as he risks his own life to save his father from the noose is a triumph of the human spirit. ‘The Cause of Darkness’ is most highly recommended.” –Five Star Review Award, Readers’ Favorite
The Light from Darkness
Always FREE with Kindle Unlimited!
'The Light from Darkness' is the story of a young man's epic journey home in search of love and redemption. There are tears, tragedy and a final reckoning which will forever change the course of his life. The young man, Teddy, travels from the tip of Florida back to his beloved Shenandoah Valley during the last months of the American Civil War. Along the way, he encounters heroes and villains alike that test both his courage and his moral character.
In Praise of 'The Light from Darkness'
"It was amazing. Rich in evocative detail and human insight, Bebout’s historical tale set in the last months of the American Civil War tells the story of a young man as he makes his way home to the lovely terrains of Shenandoah Valley and to his beloved. It is 1864. The Civil War has almost run its course. Seventeen-year-old Teddy Miller is in Great Tortugas, the desolate island off the Florida Keys, to look for his estranged father in a Yankee prison. But the tragic news of his father’s death forces Teddy to find his way back home. Teddy begins his horrendous journey, unaware of a cruel twist of fate awaiting him there. Bebout adeptly describes the rough and varied terrain of Teddy’s journey that takes him over land and sea and the various intriguing characters, including courageous heroes and malevolent villains he meets, all the while struggling with his inner demons. Teddy’s growing sense of his own identity, the people around him, and his relentless guilt over his hand in his family’s tragic fate is portrayed with great understanding and perception. Bebout competently evokes the Civil War era as he delves into the delinquencies of the Confederate Army, the difficult live of escaped Black slaves, and the devastating ways the war’s tragedy affects masses. Teddy and Eugenie’s sublime love story is poignant, and the meticulous researched details, including people’s way of living, sea voyages, and the period’s Virginia laws are infused skillfully into the narrative. Lovers of historical fiction are in for a treat."–Goodreads Review
"In John W. Bebout's THE LIGHT FROM DARKNESS, we meet seventeen-year-old Teddy Miller in Great Tortugas, off the Florida Keys. It’s 1864, during the waning months of the Civil War, and this desolate island is the location of a Yankee prison. Teddy has gone there because his father is imprisoned, all the way from their home in the Shenandoah Valley. He finds out his dad has died of dysentery. Now he must find his way home, a journey that will take him over land and sea, northward from key to key, to a blockade-running ship near Wilmington, North Carolina, then overland from Goldsboro, N.C. to Belfield, Lawrenceville, Buena Vista, Harrisonburg, and finally New Market, Virginia. Along the way, he witnesses kindness and brutality and sees the best and worst of humanity. Back home, he searches for the woman he loves and meets his karma from the time of his younger days with his dad and brother. Here the plot changes from a road motif to a legal one, involving the intricacies of mid-nineteenth-century Virginia law. Teddy tells his own story (first person) so we know from the beginning that he survives his trials and errors, but the path is filled with excitement. You will keep turning the pages of Bebout’s airy prose, which flows as smoothly as a Virginia breeze. I was wowed with the author’s knowledge of sailing vessels and the sea. Also, the clarity of the narration and the depths of the emotions, particularly the purity of Teddy’s intentions and his compassion for the people he meets along the way, and the extraordinary help he is given by strangers. Though the setting of the novel is the Civil War, it is not about specific battles. Teddy passes close to Appomattox just after Lee’s surrender and meets refugee rebels on their way to find their own homes. Bebout has nailed the setting and the sound of Southern voices, and the narrative is unambiguous until Teddy is forced to battle the legal system due to his past actions. He arrives at his family farm to discover he is a wanted man. Each chapter is headed by a quotation—from Homer to Shakespeare to Margaret Mitchell to Bob Marley, and I particularly enjoyed matching the wise words to the narrative. The title The Light from Darkness may give you a hint of the general movement of the novel. You will keep turning the pages of Bebout’s airy prose, which flows as smoothly as a Virginia breeze… Thank you, John W. Bebout, for some unforgettable characters and their struggles from the darkness to the light." –Jon Miller, Readers' Favorite Review –Readers' Favorite 5-Star Review
Poetry has always been my first love and I try to add some degree of lyricism to every story I write. In this section, I have posted one of my poems written in honor of Memorial Day, first published in 'Horseshoes & Hand Grenades' and called 'Barrage.' It tells the story, as it was told to me, about the Battle of Khe Sanh in Vietnam in 1968. God bless all who served and especially those who never returned.
Barrage: Khe Sanh, 1968
Steel rain sweeps across the ruined landscape. ‘Stay down!’ I scream. I sense—I know—he wants to run. Death lumbers towards us with heavy steps. Each step closer than the last. Inexorable. I say one prayer over and over: Make it stop! From the corner of my vision, I see Jonesy erupt from the earth. I turn to watch him run. No rifle. No helmet. Then a flash brighter than the sun.
I am lying in my mother’s garden, nostrils full of damp earth. My head in the lap of white daisies. Quiet. I open my eyes to a cobalt sky. But it is no more than a sweet dream. My hearing returns. The war returns. Fear and chaos crash down on me again. Make it stop!
When it finally quiets, men stagger from their holes. Returned from the dead. Shocked and apprehensive. We check ourselves for blood, for missing fingers and limbs. I walk to Jonesy’s foxhole. His rifle leans against the wall aimed at God. His helmet tipped, full of mud. Dinner for worms.
I fall to my knees and cry. Once I start, I cannot stop. I cry for Jonesy. I cry for the sheer madness of it all. And I cry for the softness of my youth, petrifying even as the tears are still running down my cheeks.
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