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The Spirit of the Border

(The Ohio River Trilogy #2)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,279 ratings  ·  65 reviews

As the Revolutionary war draws to an end, the violence on the frontier only accelerates. The infamous Girty brothers incite Indians to a number to massacres, but when the Village of Peace, a Christian utopian settlement is destroyed, the settlers know they will have to hunt him down.

Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 1st 1981 by Banner of Truth (first published 1906)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  1,279 ratings  ·  65 reviews

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Kenneth Grossman
Sep 16, 2015 rated it liked it

Spirit of the Border (1906) by Zane Grey (1872-1939) is a historical novel about the American frontier during the American War of Independence (1775 - 1783). At this time, the United States' frontier began at Fort Pitt (present-day Pittsburgh), and the Ohio River was a main artery to penetrate the thickly-forested, unsettled and dangerous west country. The region west of Fort Pitt was inhabited by Indians (mainly of the Delaware, Shawnee and Huron nations), who were being incited by the Detroit
Thom Swennes
Sep 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: lovers of westerns
With a spirit and tradition of stories by James Fenimore Cooper and a preamble to the works of Louis LÁmour, The Spirit of the Border by Zane Grey fits comfortably between. Grey displays a ready talent in painting a detailed picture of the westward expansion and settlement of new lands by the still young United States. Some of the scenes appear very brutal but brutal were the times. He walks a precarious tightrope over the question of Manifest Destiny and ancient native claims to these new lands ...more
Second in the Ohio River trilogy, Zane Grey brings us back to the Ohio frontier in the year 1782. The westward expansion of settlers into the great forests of the Ohio region is not for the faint of heart. Taking a small slice out of the greater battleground of the American Revolution, Grey makes the climax of his story the massacre of the Moravian Mission (Gnadenhutten, Ohio), though his version is highly fictionalized. This clash of civilizations with missionaries, hunters, Native Americans an ...more
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was an intense book about native Americans becoming Christians and then being slain by their own people who were led by white renegades who hated Christianity. As always, Grey's writing is superb, classical, and precise. I only subtracted one star because the book didn't end like I wanted. ...more
Apr 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a tale set sometime after the Revolutionary War in the late 18th century. It involves frontiersmen, missionaries, and natives, all clashing on the border between European settlers and American Indians. The viewpoints are perhaps somewhat stereotypical, and the characters lacking some dimension, but it was a believable read, with not all the "good guys" surviving nor all the "bad guys" getting their just reward. Only the second Zane Grey novel I've read. Like the first, it kept me engaged ...more
This is another book by Zane Grey based on past relatives of his from the 1700s. They were the Zane family, some of who lived at Fort Henry, some of which enjoyed being out in the wild, and some who kill Indians. There had been a peaceful treaty recently, but there are still Indians encouraged by renegade white men to fight against peaceful white people including a missionary village.
Kidnapping and brutality are subjects in the book. One man in particular (Jim Gurty) was an extremely evil whi
Larry Piper
This is allegedly a historical novel about the opening of the "west". Only, we're at the end of the 18th century, and the "west" means whatever is west of Pittsburgh (well, Fort Pitt in those days). Apparently, some of the material comes from some papers Zane Grey found in his family's archives.

So, we begin with a group heading off down the Ohio River from Fort Pitt into the "west" to become missionaries, or famous frontiersmen. The party includes Jim and Joe Downs, Jim a missionary wanna be, a
Aug 08, 2017 rated it liked it
I would be willing to give this book a 3.5 stars. Since it was written so long ago, there are passages that were acceptable then but not politically correct at this time, especially in reference to the Native American population.

Grey always writes beautiful descriptions. The Ohio territory and the settling of it he describes are particularly harsh. Hatred, killing, abductions, and other cruelties exist throughout. The author seemed well informed about learning to live in the wilderness and trac
Stephen Brooke
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Zane Grey had not really hit his stride yet with this early work, an historical fiction novel set in the upper Ohio River valley in Revolutionary War times. 'The Spirit of the Border' tends to be plodding and verbose, with way too much description and 'telling.' Here and there are action scenes that foretell the more masterful style of his later works, the best of his Westerns.

Compared to the historicals set in the same period and general area by his contemporary, Robert Chambers, it definitely
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is book two of what is called the Ohio River Trilogy, the first being Betty Zane. These books are apparently from a journal of Zane Greys grandmother, so reading them one feels the depth of the hardship of "border life" more fervently. Saying that I enjoyed these books would be true, but for the knowledge that many Native Americans were wronged on so many levels. It does offer a descriptive and realistic lens to view this period of settlement in the West. Zane Grey is a prolific descriptive ...more
S. Daisy
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I finished The Spirit of the Border today. It was such a beautiful, sad, yet wonderful story, and I would highly reccomend it. It's about two brothers, Jim and Joe, one a Christian missionary trying to convert the Indians, the other a troublemaking Indian hunter. They both love the same girl, and she likes both of them for their own unique personalities. Who will win her heart? I really loved this story, and would consider it one of Zane Grey's best.
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read when I was a kid - junior high age or so. The second in Grey's Ohio River trilogy, it paints in vivid colors the clash of civilizations that took place in the late 18th century during the Revolutionary War on the frontier. Moravian missionaries were there trying with some success to convert Indians to Christianity. There were massacres on both sides. Based on actual events, involving the author's Zane family ancestors. ...more
Daniel Hebert
A glimpse into the past when the land was unspoiled and the native Americans ruled the forest. A story of white depravity vs Christians.

Another look at how the West was won and some of the dangers and hardships that were faced by the earlier settlers. It looks at the heroes and villains that roamed the primal forests of the frontier. Masterfully developed characters in a story you will seldom experience outside of Fenmore Cooper.
Apr 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Like most westerns this novel was bit slow-paced, but it really dragged down in middle. Overall its quite tragic although there were some happy (or satisfying) moments. I'd have to admit that it's a bit racist and sexist, even for its own time period. I liked the historical context and characters, many of which had very interesting wikipedia pages that I enjoyed. ...more
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
This is the second volume in the Ohio River trilogy, which began with Betty Zane and culminates with The Last Trail. In comparison with ZG's tales of the American West, set in the following century, I would venture the opinion that the Ohio River stories are more bloody and brutal. ...more
John Lietzke
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review of Spirit of the Border by ,John Lietzke

They story was great. I enjoy stories about frontier life of early Americans of the late 1700s and early 1800s. I did think the author dwelled too long on Christianity.
Peg Lotvin
Sep 05, 2018 rated it liked it
After visiting Zane Grey's home in PA, I have picked up several of his novels. So far, I find that I have read every one of them before. Guess that means they are enjoyable at the time, but in the end, easy to forget. ...more
Thomas Druen
Haunting story of a violent time in your history.

Great yet bloody story. Mr. Grey in his true form paints wonderful characters and scenery. As you read you come to know the people and places of the old midwest giving a renewed appreciation for those early settlers.
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Very fun story with good characters and action.
Did not realize that this was #2 in the series. Now I'll have to go back and read #1.
Lloyd Hinkle
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 9-audio
Another interesting book by Zane Grey
Richard Koerner
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: zane-grey
I loved it. Couldn’t wait to read it. A little history and a lot of Zane Grey.
Kevin Cain
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The author's great grandfather founded Zanesville, OH. This story takes place in the area between Pittsburgh and Columbus, OH. Grey has a flowing style and familiarity with the geography helped me to feel connected to the story more viscerally. ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This second of Zane Grey's many novels, and his second in the Zane ancestral trilogy, tells of the exploits of Lewis Wetzel , a sworn killer of Native Americans in the last part of the 18th century around the Ohio River Valley. Rather than seeing this novel, as many others have, as being politically inappropriate by today's standards, I found that Grey demonstrated with extreme tact, that good or evil is not within a specific race, but within each person. In fact, some of the most ruthless indiv ...more
Feb 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
When I was a child, I loved spending hours, during the blissful weeks I often spent on my Grandparents' farm, perusing Grandpa's bookshelf and reading through his collection of Zane Grey books.

25+ years later, I hadn't read or even thought much about his old books in years when one day Grandpa, by then suffering the effects of senile dementia and nearing the end of his life, handed me 4 of them and urged me to read them, so I could see what good writing was. I accepted them with pleasure and ant
Donadee's Corner
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Joe Downs was taken with Nell Wells but he was only escorting her group to the Village of Peace where her uncle was joining the missionaries in converting the indians to Christians. Nell and her sister had no other family so they were staying with their uncle in his dangerous mission. One of the ministers that was to join the group at Fort Pitt was unable to make it so Joe's brother joined the group instead. A ledgendary man that had vowed to make the border area safe for the new pioneers, Wetze ...more
Jonathan Balog
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The descriptions of the land were especially vivid throughout, which was amazing as it gave me something to use in my imagination to create a picture of what the Pittsburgh area looked like in the days of Fort Pitt. (Being a native of the area, I really enjoyed that).

The descriptions and woodcraft also remind me of my times at Camp Heritage in the Laurel Highlands and the crest of US 40 over the mountain, looking down at Uniontown. Taking that trip always makes me wonder: when the first settler
This is a nostalgia read for me. I remember loving this trilogy as a teen. As noted in my review of the first book (Betty Zane) there is both admiration for Indians (Noble Savage a la Rousseau) and racism against Indians. Settlers feel they have the right to Indian lands but some also realize that perhaps they should be purchasing said land. So it does drag you back and forth a bit. The bordermen who fight Indians are undiluted heroes in the novel, and I'm sure that's how people of the period an ...more
Fred Ann
A Zane grey classic. Once again we meet with the Zanes, Ebnezer, Betty, |Jonathan and Issac and the Indian hunter Lewis wetzel. There is danger lurking on the border and a few renegDE WHITE MEN ARE THE MOST DANGEROUS, SUCH AS THE gIRTY BROTHERS. a SUCCESSFUL , PEACEFUL CHRISTIAN VILLAGE OF CONVERTED CHRIATIAN Indians are those in danger as well as any white women in the border district. The antion tiurns a bit gruesopme with vivid shocking details and circumstances of death of some of the charac ...more
Jan 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
We cannot judge this book by the ideals of today. It was written during a different time period. It may seem outdated and prejudiced by our standards today. However in my grandfathers time it would have seemed normal and commonplace. What gives this book it's classic feel is the theme it speaks to. The spirit of the border is about courage and the lack of courage. The conflicts were real. Some of the more remarkable characters were real. And the different paths the brothers took to pursue a life ...more
Skylar Hatfield
Dec 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book was enthralling, entertaining, informative, and moving. Zane Grey is under-rated. I believe his writing should be required reading in America's schools. This book is based on real events in American history and real people that shaped those events. After reading, I enjoyed researching the people and places presented by Mr. Grey. My knowledge of American history is now more complete. I think this book would make a great movie. You may think of Mr. Grey as only a hack writer of formulaic ...more
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Pearl Zane Grey was an American author best known for his popular adventure novels and stories that presented an idealized image of the rugged Old West. As of June 2007, the Internet Movie Database credits Grey with 110 films, one TV episode, and a series, Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater based loosely on his novels and short stories. ...more

Other books in the series

The Ohio River Trilogy (3 books)
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“I was a preacher, and now I am thirsting for vengeance,” answered Christy, his face clouding darkly. “Wait until you learn what frontier life means. You are young here yet; you are flushed with the success of your teaching; you have lived a short time in this quiet village, where, until the last few days, all has been serene. You know nothing of the strife, of the necessity of fighting, of the cruelty which makes up this border existence. Only two years have hardened me so that I actually pant for the blood of the renegade who has robbed me. A frontiersman must take his choice of succumbing or cutting his way through flesh and bone. Blood will be spilled; if not yours, then your foe’s. The pioneers run from the plow to the fight; they halt in the cutting of corn to defend themselves, and in winter must battle against cold and hardship, which would be less cruel if there was time in summer to prepare for winter, for the savages leave them hardly an opportunity to plant crops. How many pioneers have given up, and gone back east? Find me any who would not return home to-morrow, if they could. All that brings them out here is the chance for a home, and all that keeps them out here is the poor hope of finally attaining their object. Always there is a possibility of future prosperity. But this generation, if it survives, will never see prosperity and happiness. What does this border life engender in a pioneer who holds his own in it? Of all things, not Christianity. He becomes a fighter, keen as the redskin who steals through the coverts.” 0 likes
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