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  • Orphan Hero

  • A Novel of the Civil War
  • By: John Babb
  • Narrated by: Peter Berkrot
  • Length: 15 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Military
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

From a former US assistant surgeon general comes the epic tale of a young man’s struggle to survive a journey across America during the Civil War. Told by his stepmother that he alone had been responsible for the death of his mother, abandoned by the earlier departure of his father for the California 1849 goldfields, and threatened with being locked in a cage with his stepmother’s psychotic brother, eight-year-old Benjamin Franklin “B .F.” Windes decides to abandon home and trail his father’s path. Thus begins a trip of constant struggle with disease, severe weather, hardship, Indian attack, and death on his lone journey across much of what is now the United States. B. F. spends the next 11 years in gold rush towns in California - first as a barber, then as a physician’s assistant - before departing for the Caribbean at age 19, where he becomes a blockade runner during the American Civil War. At war’s end he discovers that the men he had been dealing with were nothing more than common murderers and thieves - Bushwhackers. He travels to the Missouri Ozarks, where he meets the girl of his dreams. But their romance is threatened when he finds himself battling a man from his past in order to safeguard his family and his future. Orphan Hero, based on the life of the author’s great-grandfather in the mid-19th century, is a tale of courage and perseverance in the face of incredible hardship.

©2015 John Babb (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Orphan Hero

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  • Debbie
  • 29-04-2016

1849 Indiana to California to the Caribbean

Young Ben Windes has been handed a rough lot in this life . . . his mother died when he was a baby; his father remarried a witch of a woman who despised him, and treated him with disdain . . . and his father allowed it . . . then his father left them all for the gold fields of California when Ben was eight years old . . . it was the last straw when his step-mother threatened to put him in a cage outside with his addle-minded step-brother . . . so Ben sets off, alone (after being robbed of his savings by his step-mom) in search of his father . . . aided by his aunt, whom he dearly loves, he has only a pair of new boots, a few dollars and a little food as he starts his journey . . . little did he know that, not far into his trek, his dad found work on a steam ship, and changed his mind about going west . . . Ben is as tough as a pine knot though, his first experience of being robbed by his own family serving him well as he traveled, and he learned to work hard, be smart and take care of himself . . . while never losing his kind heart . . . making friendships along the way . . . but never being able to fully trust . . . he grew . . . and he grew UP . . . by wit and sweat, he made money, invested it, and traded fairly with those he met . . . although the story does include the time during the civil war, much of it is BEFORE the war, and after . . . the title is a little misleading in my opinion, Ben or B.F. is a good man, but not a hero . . . and not really an orphan, except maybe by choice . . . he made his way in a cruel world, he found hope and goodness . . . this is a clean story . . . but also one of honesty during a perilous time in American history . . . Great listen . . .

1 person found this helpful

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  • David
  • 09-02-2016

Great

As a truck driver, I get the opportunity to listen to 3-4 books every week. This book is as good as any I've listened to, and I've listened to hundreds. The story of the the struggle and adventures of life in the US and the frontier just before, during, and after the civil war is captivating to say the least, never lags for keeping your attention.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amber G.
  • 01-09-2015

takes me to the wild west

I wish there had been a female narrator as well. it's always kind of creepy to hear a man mimic a woman. however, the story really brought me to another place and time, and I'll be downloading The Oregon Trail next, on audible.. it's an actual history book, not historical fiction. I guess you can say my interest has been piqued. that's always a sign of a good book, in my opinion.

1 person found this helpful

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  • DECLO 68
  • 01-04-2016

Fantastic story. CLEAN

Loved it. No profanity. No sex. Just a well written story. Great heros.

I wish there were more
Like it.

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  • linda spaulding
  • 13-07-2021

Too Fa r Fetched

Totally unbelievable. The hero must be the smartest kid to ever be born. This could have been a good story if the author would have dumbed him down a bit. I am going to try to listen to the rest and if I change my mind I will update the review.

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  • Melissa H. Kuzma
  • 29-05-2021

Rags to riches coming of age story

A captivating story set in exciting times. Refreshingly, the story stands on its own without pointless cursing or sex scenes that don't move the story along and are part most books and movies these days. Ties up all the loose ends to boot. I loved it.

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  • Susan Kane
  • 30-01-2020

Orphan hero

A tad long and dreary in parts. Enjoyed the history that was woven into the story.

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  • PHSINV
  • 27-11-2017

Great story about a little known time

Wow. Just Wow. Just finished it. I hope this story is being made into a movie. It covers a period, place, and events that aren’t well covered in other historical novels and in such a way that I found captivating - nearly unbelievable. I can’t tell you the last time I was trapped in a car listening to a book to see what happened next, laughed, cried, and shouted out loud. What a great story! I cared about the characters and found them to be well developed, not one dimensional and predictable bad guys, good guys, etc. Well done - I’ve already started my re-listening.

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  • Amy B
  • 14-01-2017

Heart Gripping Story of Boy Trying to Survive

Would you listen to Orphan Hero again? Why?

The story of a young boy facing adversity while searching for his father. All of this from a young boy in a time when our country was young. As the story continued I followed along on a map and could visualize the places this young man visited on his journey. In addition to the locations I've visited I could clearly imagine the awe this young man must have felt during his journey west.

What did you like best about this story?

I was introduced to this book during a book signing and I had the opportunity to talk to the author about his inspiration for the book. To learn this story is based on his ancestor's journal and to know this journey is based on fact gave me a personal connection to the story. As I listened to the story I could not get over the fact this kid was only eight years old when he started his journey!

What does Peter Berkrot bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narrator did a great job of placing you into the story. As a resident of the Louisville area and previously lived in the south the narrator's accent was authentic and added the kind of experience that placed you in the story. The narrator was telling a story rather than reading a novel. I highly recommend hearing this narration and loose yourself in the story!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

As I read on I shared in the pain, suffering, struggle and heartache this child felt. I watched this young child grow into a young man and then a man.... I followed his journey and rooted for him all the way through.

Any additional comments?

I don't normally feel this way about books but I would LOVE to see this book adapted to the big screen. The visual images I encountered during his travels can only provide a deeper and more passionate desire to see this child succeed. His journey through the wild west and the historical locations he visited can provide a stunning cinematic experience.

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  • Brenda Bronson
  • 21-10-2016

A Fine Tale

What did you love best about Orphan Hero?

It was a genuinely interesting story, and the flow of it was very nice. I was always looking forward to where BF would go next. The history was well done. Basic, but not in a bad way. The author threw in little tidbits from the era that made it interesting. Many that I already knew (like life on the Oregon Trail) but filled the book with other details that rounded out the feel of the era. And he got that part right. The book wasn't overly violent or anything but it wasn't a sanitized version of the mid 1800s, and since that era wasn't very sanitary I'm glad he went the realistic route.

What other book might you compare Orphan Hero to and why?

Eh, not sure. Perhaps the much more adult version of Little House on the Prairie, but that doesn't really fit either. Though I must say I liked those books as a kid and like this one.

Which character – as performed by Peter Berkrot – was your favorite?

I'm not a fan really when a single narrator has to do both male and female voices, but he did a fine job mostly. I enjoyed his gruff southern voices, but wonder of how much of a stereotype those are.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No extreme reaction. Just a very enjoyable one. I listened to it for 2 hours a day and work and looked forward to each day.

Any additional comments?

This one went down smooth. There's nothing amazing about it, but it was a quality listen.

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  • J. Wexler
  • 31-07-2022

Basically a running cartoon.

Overly dramatic reading ala Disney. Purely evil people and angels. The reader does everything but cackle like a halloween witch.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-02-2022

orphan hero

I really enjoyed listening to this book, the voices were very good , I would recommend it.

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