There’s a brief interview about the Adelsverein Trilogy posted here, at James D. Kellog’s place. Check it out!


  1. In a reader’s commentary, today, you were suggested as the “anti-Karl-May” – for your sober description of the German settlers fate in Texas. Karl May was (and remains) a famous author of adventure phantasies in Germany. Right now a symposium is taking place in Leipzig in which academics seriously try to find some intellectual significance in May’s writings. (The reader’s commentary appeared in “Neues Deutschland” – an independent left daily).

  2. OMG, Valeria – now I am known in Germany as an ‘anti-Karl-May’? All righty, then – he was a fantastic story-teller (emphasis on the ‘fantastic’) but the thing is – what really, really historically happened is ever so much more dramatic and interesting.
    Which is why I write what I do. Thanks for the word. And the fate of the German settlers in Texas wasn’t all that horrible. They thrived here in Texas – and their descendents did very well, indeed!

  3. No, you are not “known” as the anti-Karl-May – only suggested as such in one single reader’s commentary after a report of the Karl-May-Symposium. The letter suggested that Karl May inflicted severe desorientation on a couple of generations of young german men, who confined in Germany’s predicaments, were unable to venture forth and experience the reality outside Europe. The British, Spaniards, Portuguese, Dutch never developed such romantic and self-deceptive phantasies: For them “overseas” meant simply a commercial or career opportunity. When you read Dr. Herff’s book published in Germany 1851, in which he remits very realistic guidance for immigrants fo Texas – you can see what nonesense Karl May instilled into the thinking of young german men. By the way – Henckel von Donnersmarck is a contemporary german film director who may reside in L.A. – and if you check the data on New Braunfels residents – you notice that a Henckel von Donnermarck arrived from the same german city around 1847 and died in New Braunfels due to cholera about 1848. No doubt both are from the same family! If you read the original reports in german written by Karl von Solms Braunfels – you get a clear picture about the bitter reality of the initial period. The asassination of the Germans after 1861 and the Nueces Massacre also add to the unromantic story of Germans in Texas. The “Treue der Union” monument inf Comfort/Texas is testimony to one of numerous dark events in U.S. history. In your work, you might find a unique work useful: Colin Woodard “American Nations” – because it will also explain the history of Texas after 1820 and up to today.

  4. Thanks, Valeria – I am a bit relieved! I like to think that I am writing about the ‘real’ wild west, and not the ‘fantasy wild west’ … and curiously, the ‘real’ wild west is often much more dramatic and interesting!
    I’ve always thought it kind of amusing that Karl May never went any farther west than the upper mid-west. Chicago, I think it was, on a single visit and years after writing his books. Which was a pity.
    I’ll look up Henckel von Donnersmarck in my references; from the year of arrival, it looks as if he was an Adelsverein-sponsered immigrant … and there was a hideous cholera epidemic that hit the Texas-German settlements in 1848.
    Unfortunately, most historians of the Adelsverein believe that Prince Solms Braunfels was one of the main reasons that the whole plan to settle that part of Texas with Germans went bust. He wasn’t a terribly practical man. I put in my own book that John Meusebach would have been a much better man to be the Verein commissioner in Texas… I’ve been to the Comfort monument – and have even talked to some of the descendents of Hill Country Unionists – of whom there were quite a few!