Frank J. Dutch’s “Can’t Hobble the Elephant” is a Seamless Amalgam of History and Literature

by | Feb 22, 2023 | Literature & Fiction | 0 comments

The American Civil War established the country as a unified political entity, emancipated more than four million enslaved people, strengthened and centralized the federal government, and created the groundwork for the country’s rise to global prominence in the 20th century. With millions of soldiers killed and a large portion of the South in ruins, it is one the most expensive and lethal combat ever waged on American territory.

History would tell everyone that while liberation did not result in equality for formerly enslaved people, the Civil War redefined the present American society and served as a springboard for the fight for equal civil and human rights. Its relevance continues to echo over time, inspiring countless artistic and literary works in the modern age, one of which is Francis J. Dutch’s compelling novel set during the end of the Civil War.

The Western Novel Wordsmith

Francis J. Dutch, also known as Frank, grew up in Philadelphia. Frank lived in Germany during the Korean War, working as an army intelligence. He finished an advanced night school instruction, ending with an MBA. Frank used to work as a manager of corporate planning at a significant manufacturing company but is now retired. Given his firsthand war experience, it is no surprise that Frank can craft a masterpiece independently.

A Contemporary Portrait of the Civil War’s Aftermath

Francis J. Dutch’s “Can’t Hobble the Elephant” follows the story of a young lad named Josh O’Donnell. Francis’ Western novel opens with Josh running away from the Union army, which he loyally served during the height of the war. The young man finds employment on a ranch in West Texas. His fellow riders are curious about where the boyish-faced teenager from Philadelphia learned to ride and shoot so proficiently, as well as how such an amiable young man can suddenly transform into a violent, ruthless killer. The cowboy is plagued by the giant monster of war, who will not let him be freed from the repercussions of his past actions during the war. During a cattle drive, Josh and the other ranch boys from New Jerusalem wound up in Sugar Tap, Texas, where both friends and enemies are killed through bloodletting. Unfortunately, the sheriff of Sugar Tap is not a man of logic.

Josh must once more leave town because Sugar Tap’s sheriff is not a man of reason. His first true love, Angel, and her odd family are waiting for him in New Mexico when he lands there, thanks to this flight. Unimaginable destruction occurs as soon as the monster’s face appears. Josh promises retaliation. Finally, he talks about his adventures throughout the war and the tragic event that led the soldiers to want to hang him. Josh will face another conflict in Sugar Tap. With the seemingly never-ending battle in Josh’s life, Francis Dutch’s novel poses the question: is it possible for him to ever hobble the elephant?

Hitting the Right Notes for a Distinctive Western Novel

Western novels represent the American version of the legendary man. Often it is done through a depiction of an ordinary man who turns into a hero through good deeds, such as helping the weak and defeating a colossal evil. In his work, “Can’t Hobble the Elephant,” author Francis Dutch encourages readers to contemplate and ask questions. Despite the absence of an overarching plot, critical thinking does escape the readers’ minds while reading Francis’ novel. The book’s title forces the readers to unmask the metaphor of the “elephant,” which cannot reveal itself without captious reading.  

From cattle runs, brutal fights, dangerous war escapades, and hostile cowboys and outlaws, the book allows its readers to picture and experience the aftermath of the Civil War. Francis’ mastery in developing his characters and giving a vivid description of the Wild West hit the right notes for a distinctive Western novel. The book is perfect for history and literature buffs alike.

Learn more about “Can’t Hobble The Elephant” by Francis J. Dutch (Frank Dutch) and his works by visiting his website:

The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ReadersMagnet Bookstore.


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