This is the enigmatic story of Richard Realf (1834-1878), a prodigy poet published in his teens, a gifted teacher of the poor, a courageous member of John Brown's band of anti-slavery fighters, a Union Army volunteer decorated for gallantry in battle, a devoted family man, and a spellbinding temperance lecturer.
He was also a drunkard and a bigamist who abandoned two wives and four children.
Realf was very much a man of his time and reflected the turbulent 19th century's awakening of the common man, the championing of freedom, and the desperate search for human perfectability. His ambiguous life is a virtual allegory of the pursuit of self-realization and the price of failing to achieve it.
Gerald Haslam, author of That Constant Coyote wrote, "Richard Realf lived a paradoxical life that is far too little known. Thanks to George Rathmell, contemporary readers can explore Realf's experiences as a poet, soldier, and participant in some of the major events of our past."
"Ever since his suicide in Oakland in 1878, poet Richard Realf has remained the Great Unknown of nineteenth century American letters. In a biography employing the techniques of the of novel, Rathmell recovers for us the story of a man cursed to live as saint and sinner, a hero and scoundrel."
Dr. Kevin Starr, State Librarian of California and author of The California Dream Series.
A Passport to Hell is available at www.amazon.com or your local independent bookstore. A signed and dedicated copy may be ordered from the author by sending a check for $14.00 to: George Rathmell, PO Box 98, The Sea Ranch, CA 95497.
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