Howard Bahr, Jackson, Mississippi, USA is a native of Meridian, Mississippi, a Vietnam veteran, a former railroader, and the author of four novels. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in English from the University of Mississippi, then worked as a professor of English. He is currently writer-in-residence at Belhaven University.
After penning a highly praised trio of Civil War novels - The Black Flower (1997), The Year of Jubilo (2000), and The Judas Field (2006) - Bahr turns to the 1940s and a close-knit group of railroad men. Bahr, a former railroad man himself, is intimately familiar with that world ('an alien, masculine world with a language all its own') and here deploys many lovingly detailed passages describing the mechanics and machinery. A. P. Dunn, engineer on a freight train, has been suffering from memory loss, but his crew is reluctant to confront him because of his loyal service and his generous mentoring of the younger men; meanwhile, Artemus Kane, a conductor on a deluxe passenger train who is also a World War I vet haunted by his battle experiences, wonders if he has finally met a woman he can commit to. Due to a series of miscommunications, the two trains seem to be on a collision course in spite of the crews' long years of experience and dedication to their work. Running right underneath the suspenseful narrative is a beautifully wrought view of the world as a lonely and unforgiving place." - Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist. "...re-creates this seminal moment in American history with prose that is vivid, unflinching, and often incantatory...Howard Bahr's accomplishment is magnificent." - Washington Post BookWorld. "...a mature work of fiction by a gifted writer affectingly eloquent and fearless of complexity and ambiguity...Bahr is a writer with a fluent lyric facility, subtly ensuring that the brutality of his narrative events never becomes numbing...a beautifully wrought novel that deserves a wide audience." - Los Angeles Times. "[Bahr] is a true poet of weather, of night, and of time...Not since James Agee has someone made the southern night so alive, so intimate, so orchestral...Along with the sweeping, cinematic story of rebellion, loyalty, revenge, and reawakened romance, Bahr's evocation of place and time is the most enduring achievement of the novel." - New York Times