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NOTE: All books by Michael Cooney are available on Amazon in paper and/or digital formats
My novels have focused on misunderstood or long forgotten and maligned individuals from the history of the Mohawk and upper Hudson Valleys of New York state, a theme and setting I also explore in my blog, Upstate Earth. Each novel closely follows the historical record and relies on fiction to provide details of personality and motivation.
"The River That Flows Both Ways" is set in the 17th century Dutch colony of New Netherland and centers on Harmen van den Bogaert, a prominent explorer and physician who was sentenced to death for the crime of sodomy and forgotten for the next 350 years. Then a new translation of Bogaert’s journal of exploration was made by Charles Gehring and William Starna in 1991, followed by a graphic novel of the journal by George O’Connor. My book provides a view of Bogaert’s later life, the time when he fell from power and fled for his life back to his Mohawk friends. His story is told by Matouac, a young Indian whom he befriends.
"Neither Rebel Nor Tory" takes place at the time of the American Revolution, when the New York colony became the scene of civil war between the rebels and those loyal to the King, including the fierce Iroquois tribes. Hanyost Scuyler is the nephew of Nicholas Herkimer, the richest man in the Mohawk Valley and commander of the patriot militia. But Hanyost prefers the way of life followed by his Iroquois neighbors and when they side with the King, he is torn by conflicting loyalties. First serving the rebels, Hanyost is later found with the Tories and faces a death sentence for treason. Then Benedict Arnold offers him a chance to redeem himself.
"Roxy Druse & The Murders of Herkimer County" combines a fictional memoir of the 1884 murder of a farmer by his wife and a public domain history written by the memoir’s narrator. The story centers on the trial and execution of Roxy Druse, sensationalized in the emerging national print media of the era. The gruesome nature of the murder, which included dismemberment and feeding body parts to the family’s pigs, did much to briefly excite public indignation against Mrs. Druse and contributed to the rush to hang her. This book provides a different view of the accused murderess, and raises questions about her innocence that were not possible in Victorian times.
Current projects include research into the bitter labor conflicts of the upstate New York region in the late 19th and early 20th century.