by Tom Blubaugh
Night of the Cossack is a compelling historical fiction adventure about a teenager who is forced to grow up quickly. Nathan Hertzfield is kidnapped by a Cossack of the Russian Army. He faces many life or death situations during his saga. Join Nathan on his suspenseful coming of age journey through parts of Russia and Europe during the early 1900's. Don't miss this entertaining and intriguing story, Night of the Cossack. This is the homeschool version of Night of the Cossack that pre-teens and teens will love. Packed with adventure and new experiences with a 10-day lesson plan included. The lesson plan helps students to discover history, weather, math, and science from the early 1900s. Also included are moral dilemma questions for each day.
Elaine M. Cooper on Amazon wrote:
I downloaded the first chapter of the Night of the Cossacks and that was it--I ordered copies for my teenage grandsons far enough ahead of Christmas that I could read the story before I gave it away! Tom Blubaugh has researched the type of life the Cossacks lived and woven a fascinating tale of Nathan, a sixteen-year-old Jewish boy kidnapped by a Cossack soldier and forced to become a Cossack. He is renamed Stephan and learns to completely suppress his Jewish identity.
Night of the Cossacks is a story of loss and perseverance--he first loses his father in an accident, then the rest of his family, and his way of life and identity when he is kidnapped. He adjusts to the ways of the Cossacks; his marksmanship quickly earns his place in the unit he is a part of. As the unit's "hunter," he appears to be progressing in the Russian army when he loses Nikoli, his mentor/captor whom he had grown to love. Then he loses again when his apparent promotion turns out to be a betrayal and he must flee for his life from his boyhood friend and the Russian military. Nathan/Stepan's wits, his ability to discern and think his way out of a jam, the innate eye-hand coordination and the skills learned in the military keep him alive through a series of life-threatening, harrowing circumstances. Through it all he perseveres; he doesn't give up hope or become bitter and resentful toward God.
The Russian secret police has a reputation for always finding their man. Once they are on your trail they will pursue wherever you go, so Nathan had a knowing that he would be a hunted man for the rest of his life. However, in his flight, he learns of far away America and decides to go. This decision means he must say a gut-wrenching goodbye to the horse who has been with him since boyhood--a difficult decision. He perseveres, hops a ship as a laborer and works his way to his new homeland. Even on the ship, a Russian soldier appears to take him in! So close to escape and yet so far! Only quick thinking on the part of the captain saves the day. Nathan succeeds in his attempt to escape to America and begin his own family. After all the losses, finally, he has the opportunity to have love and family once again.
Thomas Blubaugh's characters are strong; a reader quickly identifies with Nathan and cheers for him all the way. Scenes are vivid and emotional; a strong storyline pulls the reader in. You have to find out what happens! With all the adventure, the suspense of life and death close calls and Nathan's quick reflexes--you can see why I immediately bought copies for my teenage grandsons! They would love the adventure, suspense, and identify with the main character who flees from Russia, across Europe on his way to America. There is a hint at romance but no torrid love scenes; just enough love to hold the interest of girls! I appreciated the fact that Nathan's character, ethics and principles were guided by his early childhood training as a Jewish boy--which means that they followed biblical principles. A believer can see that God was watching over this one to keep him safe, to ensure that he would live to do the good works which God ordained for him to do! The ending hints at what may have happened next . . .
This is a good, clean story and suitable for any teenager (or oldster).
The story behind the story is also intriguing. Tom's grandfathers all died before he was born so he never knew them. When he became a grandfather himself, he had no model. There was a gaping hole in his life experience so he began to research with the little information he had--that his grandfather had been a Cossack. How could a Jew be a Cossack? This book answers that question and paints a vivid picture of life as it was a generation or two ago. He researched to leave a legacy for his grandchildren and somewhere along the line it morphed into a novel!
Bravo, Tom! I join you in wishing I could have known your grandfather.
Lisa Tortorello on Amazon wrote:
In one night of terror, Nathan Hertzfield's life changed forever.
The hard-working 16-year-old, taking care of his widowed mother and younger brother in a small village in early 20th century Russia, is abruptly kidnapped and forced to join the Cossack army. He not only loses his family, but his identity as a Jew, and must adapt to the harsh outdoor conditions of living as a soldier in an army that he never wanted to join.
This novel about Nathan's transition to new identities and unfamiliar places follows his precarious and extremely jarring journey into manhood while trying to survive. And one of the skills that he must learn is to pretend he is not a Jew. Throughout his ordeal, Nathan never forgets who he is, however, or where he came from. His past is forever present in his heart.
Night of the Cossack is well written and is a rich read for all ages from youth to adulthood. It is a heart-wrenching look at the extreme prejudice against the Jewish people long before the Holocaust in Germany occurred. Nathan's character is filled with the innocence of youth, but that slowly changes in the years as a Cossack. He finds friends but is then betrayed by someone that he thought he could trust. Where can he turn but to the God of his fathers, Who leads him on a journey fraught with yet more danger.
I highly recommend this novel. The characters come alive on the pages and the scenes in the stark wilderness will emerge like a painting in your mind. But it is the realization of the long-standing prejudice against God's people so vividly portrayed that melts your heart and makes you cling to hope for Nathan's safety and his future.
I've been told there is a sequel in the works--a novel to look forward to!
Lauren K. Lotter on Amazon wrote:
Follow Nathan Hertzfield as he journeys physically, emotionally, and spiritually along the road of life. While historical fiction is not my first choice when reading a book, I found myself captivated by Nathan's struggles and the decisions he was forced to make. From the moment he was kidnapped, Nathan's life changed forever. You will find yourself cheering for him until the very last page. In Night of the Cossack Tom Blubaugh does a fine job weaving history and fiction into a gripping story. I was so intrigued I even looked on a map to follow Nathan on his journey!
I have read books before on the Cossacks and the Russians. I was expecting everything about the Cossacks in this book, like it has been in every other I have read, to be negative. To my surprise, the author showed a side of the Cossacks that you almost never hear about. They weren't all the bloodthirsty men you usually see them portrayed as.
I was very intrigued from the first page and once I picked it up, found it almost impossible to stop reading.
Nathan's journey from boy to man was laid out in an orderly manner. The story moved at the perfect pace, neither to slow nor too fast and I felt I had adequate time to grasp what was unfolding.
I think this story would be especially appealing to teen boys, however, I think it would appeal to a wide variety of readers.
About the author
I have written non-fiction most of my adult life. Recently I wrote a historical fiction novel, Night of the Cossack, which was published by Bound by Faith Publishers. I am now writing a sequel. I am a retired but active senior and enjoy time with my wife, Barbara, and family (we have six children and fourteen grandchildren), writing, photography, Bocce Ball and horseshoes. I also like to travel, speak to students who wish to write and writing groups and clubs.