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I am 61 years old, an off-duty Marine. I must have read this little book twenty or thirty times in my life. The rage of John Wesley Weasel still brings tears, raises my hackles, makes me wanna stand up and cheer. "Do and do and do and do! John Wesley Weasel will do for you!" And I got goose bumps and I'm leaking tears and in my mind I am screaming: "Go, John Wesley! Go! Go! Go!" I can barely stay in my seat.
Maybe there's something wrong with me, but I don't think so.
All over the world there are billions of innocent people. They may be weak, they may have petty faults, they may even be stupid but in the final analysis they are innocent and unassuming. They get up in the morning. The go to work. They bring home money and they feed their kids and make a home. Then there are the others in their millions. Hollywood calls them 'wiseguys' and has made heroes of them. Wiseguys have taken over management of our corporations, of Wall Street, of our government.
There have always been wiseguys. The whole of history is one long recital of wiseguys preying upon the innocent. Wiseguys are just people who want more than they deserve and think they know how to get it. Wiseguys are the people our Founders had in mind when they observed that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time by the blood of patriots.
I had a history professor once. He was a Polish Jew who, as a little boy, somehow escaped Hitler's ovens. He used to make us read books about Stalin and Hitler and when some complained he said: "I only make you read this stuff because I want you to know, when you leave here, that there is such a thing as Evil and it does walk the Earth among us."
I didn't need convincing. I saw evil on the playground when I was a little boy. I saw evil in factories and mills and slaughterhouses and dance halls and bars. Evil is everywhere and it's easy to spot. It sports a knowing leer and a sidelong glance and it's always looking for the easier, softer way. It's a wiseguy, who takes what he wants from those who cannot or will not fight.
It needs a character like Chauntecleer to recognize what we're up against and organize the resistance. 'The Book of the Dun Cow' is a story older than the Bible. It is as old as the human race, and it will last just as long.
Aug 20, 2007
Honestly, I am very skeptical about stories involving animals. But since I had read one other book by Walter Wangerin Jr, I trusted him to tell a good story.
When you think "oh, they're just animals," you let your emotional guard down. You sort of read it for fun, and after a while, you don't realize you're fully invested in these characters.
Every character comes alive. The coop becomes a mythical land. And you become completely immersed in this beautiful world. It is so full, so real.
A good story pulls you in and grips you and makes you feel and experience things, almost against your will. You will not be able to put this book down. Its just that good.
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