Review: The Founding by Michael L. Ross

I'm delighted to host historical fiction author, Michael L. Ross, today with his new novel, Across the Great Divide: The Founding. It's Book 3 in the Across the Great Divide series, and a gripping, thought-provoking read.

It's currently on Blog Tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club. Find the other fascinating tour stops here

In The Founding, the third book in Michael L. Ross’ Across the Great Divide series, we meet characters from the first two novels again. 

The plot sees Luther having to flee Indiana to head west, to find that elusive place where former slaves could settle in peace, to live alongside other settlers. But, as he finds to his disappointment, prejudice follows him wherever he goes, and although he has business opportunities, he finds it hard to trust people.

Will Crump, brother of Albinia who had helped Luther as much as she could, is in search of new opportunities. A new, emerging town might just be his chance for a fresh start, to carve a life for himself after the war. But challenges await.

Then there is Julia, who is the brains behind her husband's company. Keen to invest in the new technology - the expansion of railroads – they are forced to accept business terms from a dodgy associate who tries to cheat them. But Julia can see through him. Will her sheer determination and strong business sense prevail, especially as she is ’only’ a woman?

The Founding is told in several points of view, all clearly identifiable, so their journeys are easy to follow, as a reader. The author provides us with some glimpses into the characters’ past, but it may help reading the other two titles first, to get the whole picture of their earlier fate and their development through the stories.

This is a novel of adventure, of discovery, and of determination, but also of prejudice, both towards ’freed’ slaves, who were not wanted now the war was over, and towards women. And then there were the Natives, whose lands were taken from them to found new towns.

It would have been so easy to give in, but as Will, Luther, and Julia face new hurdles, ultimately, their sheer will sees them continuing. They are strong characters, very well defined.

I found the topic of great interest, as this area is one I know almost nothing about. I'd certainly never heard of exodusters and their struggles, and I'm glad that Michael L. Ross has picked up this particular theme.

The repercussions are, sadly, still felt today, so there is still much work to be done to cross ’the great divide’, but with novels like The Founding, we are a step closer to finding a way. Understanding of the past is key to understand the present. 
An engaging, thought-provoking, and gripping adventure. Highly recommended!



Two men, two dreams, two new towns on the plains, and a railroad that will determine whether the towns—one black, one white—live or die.

Will Crump has survived the Civil War, Red Cloud’s War, and the loss of his love, but the search for peace and belonging still eludes him. From Colorado, famed Texas Ranger Charlie Goodnight lures Will to Texas, where he finds new love, but can a Civil War sharpshooter and a Quaker find a compromise to let their love survive? When Will has a chance to join in the founding of a new town, he risks everything—his savings, his family, and his life—but it will all be for nothing if the new railroad passes them by.

Luther has escaped slavery in Kentucky through Albinia, Will’s sister, only to find prejudice rearing its ugly head in Indiana. When the Black Codes are passed, he’s forced to leave and begin a new odyssey. Where can he and his family go to be truly free? Can they start a town owned by blacks, run by blacks, with no one to answer to? But their success will be dependent on the almighty railroad and overcoming bigotry to prove their town deserves the chance to thrive.

Will’s eldest sister, Julia, and her husband, Hiram, are watching the demise of their steamboat business and jump into railroads, but there’s a long black shadow in the form of Jay Gould, the robber baron who ruthlessly swallows any business he considers competition. Can Julia fight the rules against women in business, dodge Gould, and hold her marriage together?

The Founding tells the little-known story of the Exodusters and Nicodemus, the black town on the plains of Kansas, and the parallel story of Will’s founding of Lubbock, Texas, against the background of railroad expansion in America. A family reunited, new love discovered, the quest for freedom, the rise of two towns. In the end, can they reach Across the Great Divide? The Founding is the exciting conclusion to the series.

Praise for The Founding:

“Michael is an excellent storyteller and has done a wonderful job depicting Luther, and the other black characters in this book. He has done his homework and depicts many historical facts about Nicodemus in a most enlightening and creative way. It has been a pleasure working with someone who has made a concerted effort to get things right."  

~ Angela Bates
Nicodemus Descendant/Historian
Executive Director
The Nicodemus Historical Society and Museum

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About the Author:

Michael L. Ross

Michael Ross is a lover of history and great stories.

He’s a retired software engineer turned author, with three children, and five grandchildren, living in Newton, Kansas with his wife of 39 years. Michael graduated from Rice University and Portland State University with degrees in German and software engineering. He was part of an MBA program at Boston University.

Michael was born in Lubbock, Texas, and still loves Texas. He’s written short stories and technical articles in the past, as well as articles for the Texas Historical Society. 

Across the Great Divide now has three novels in the series, "The Clouds of War", and "The Search", and the conclusion, "The Founding". "The Clouds of War" was an honorable mention for Coffee Pot Book of the Year in 2019, and an Amazon #1 best seller in three categories, along with making the Amazon top 100 paid, reviewed in Publisher's Weekly. "The Search" won Coffee Pot Cover of the Year in 2020, and Coffee Pot Silver Medal for Book of the Year in 2020, as well as short listed for the Chanticleer International Book Laramie Award.

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