February 14, 2004 - Janesville Gazette: Philippines RPCV John Durand recounts past of New Mexico

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Philippines: Peace Corps Philippines: The Peace Corps in the Philippines: February 14, 2004 - Janesville Gazette: Philippines RPCV John Durand recounts past of New Mexico

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Philippines RPCV John Durand recounts past of New Mexico

Philippines RPCV John Durand recounts past of New Mexico

Elkhorn author recounts past of New Mexico

(Published Saturday, February 14, 2004)

By Sue Yanny/Gazette Staff

ELKHORN-On a winter morning more than 150 years ago, an armed mob killed the American governor and several government officials in Taos, N.M.

The mob then hunted down every American in the area.

The violence resulted in a military campaign to quell what became a full-fledged rebellion.

John Durand, 67, of Elkhorn recreated the uprising of Mexicans and Indians against American authorities in a book he wrote called "The Taos Massacres."

Durand published his book himself last fall through Puzzlebox Press in Elkhorn. He will speak about his book this week to the Taos County Historical Society in Taos. He will also appear for a reading and book signing at Moby Dickens Bookstore in Taos.

When Durand isn't working as an independent consultant for the Walworth County Human Services Department in Elkhorn, he writes books and reads history.

Durand has written three books.

One is published, and two are unpublished.

His first book is a historical novel. His second book is also a historical novel-"The Taos Massacres."His third book is a memoir about growing up in Spooner, including how he struggled with polio and how his father started dying when he was 12 years old.

He will publish his first book this year and his third book next year.

Durand earned a bachelor's degree in English from UW-Eau Claire and went on to earn a master's degree in English from the University of Tennessee.

He and his ex-wife served in the Peace Corps in the Philippines.

"That was a useful experience because it helped bring cultural sensitivity to my writing that I wouldn't have had otherwise,"he said.

Durand said he learned about the massacres during visits to Taos.

He said he was struck by how little attention is paid to what he calls a "watershed period"in the history of the West.

He said he wanted to tell a more complete and balanced story than anything he had read about it.

The novel follows several characters caught up in the conflict that occurred after the United States occupied New Mexico in 1846 during the war between the United States and Mexico.

The characters include John Albert and Charley Autobees, who were former mountain men who lived in Taos. They worked for Simeon Turley, who owned a mill north of Taos that was besieged and destroyed during the rebellion.

Although Albert and Autobees survived the fighting, Turley and some other men who worked in the mill were killed.

Popular history focuses on the deaths of the American governor and men like Turley, but hundreds of Mexicans and Indians also died during the uprising, Durand said.

Durand wrote his book to tell both sides of the story, he said.

"I take my writing seriously, and I take history seriously,"he said. "I really thought this thing ought to see the light of day."

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Story Source: Janesville Gazette

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Philippines; Writing - Philippines; History



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