About Joe Anthony's new novel 
A Wounded Snake


In 1898 Lexington, Kentucky, black lawyer, journalist, and civil-rights advocate Robert O’Hara Benjamin knew he was courting the whirlwind when he celebrated the defiance of a young black Mississippi farmer, William Littlefield .  The Mississippi Sheriff bulldozing the family off of the prime land shot young Littlefield’s daddy dead in the process. But then young Littlefield did something unexpected for a Mississippi “colored.” He pulled out his own gun, killed three deputies and sent the Sheriff scurrying.

“Hurrah for William Littlefield,” Benjamin wrote in his newspaper, The Lexington Standard, “shoot and shoot, kill and kill, fight and fight, curse and curse, damn and damn.”

As Noah Webster, Benjamin’s young aide, muses: “It’s a wonder Mr. Benjamin don’t get shot.”

“Son,” Mr. Benjamin says to him, “you live your life just trying not to be shot, it’s not much of a life. Especially if you’re a Negro in the South.”

Joseph G. Anthony’s latest novel, A Wounded Snake, covers the tumultuous years of turn-of-the-century Lexington when blacks struggled hard to maintain the rights the Civil War had given them, while women, under the courageous leadership of Madeline McDowell Breckinridge, tried hard to extend their own rights.  The forces mustered against them are formidable: a corrupt and voracious party machine under Billy Klair and Judge Frank Bullock, a preempted and complacent black leadership under Green Pinckney Russell, a misogyny that sometimes called itself chivalry.

But mostly they faced a racism that was as deep as the palisade canyons the Kentucky River had carved over centuries: a hatred of the black man and his “new” rights that sometimes disguised itself under Kentucky politeness and sometimes raged in the streets with a gun in one hand and a rope in the other. It is this racism that Robert O’Hara Benjamin bravely combats.

Anthony’s novel covers much of that struggle: the fight back against black voting, the sabatoging of black jockeys who had once dominated the sport, the school battles out in the county resulting in mass arrests, the fierce debate over the idea of black education itself. Lexington, Kentucky comes alive—the past blends into the future and we see, sadly, how that future—our present—springs from this past.
"An eye-opening narrative that does much to explain the complexity of race relations." - Richard Taylor, former poet laureate of Kentucky

"A fine historical novel, compassionate yet unsentimental." Christina Lovin, author of Echo: Poems​

A Wounded Snake is available from
Bottom Dog Press , Amazon , and many bookstores, or use this order form.

Read the author's note about the history behind the story, a synopsis of the storyand the very colorful cast of historical characters in the novel.

And check out Tom Eblen's write-up in the Lexington Herald-Leader