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Robert Lee Murphy is the author of award-winning frontier historical novels set during the turbulent mid-nineteenth century years when the United States evolved into the country that stretches from sea to shining sea. Known as the period of Manifest Destiny, dynamic events unfolded as the result of efforts by visionaries who not only dreamed westward expansion was an inherent right, but who overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve it. Never mind that indigenous people had roamed the land for centuries and still considered it theirs, or that Mexicans and their Spanish ancestors had established their version of civilization in the territory before the Pilgrims landed. Americans were determined to forge a nation in their own image of opportunity and prosperity. Murphy’s writing brings to life the terrible trials and tribulations of westward expansion. His believable fictional characters stand side-by-side with the historical personages who faced the challenges created by hostile adversaries and an unforgiving environment.

Murphy’s novel, Bozeman Paymaster, to be released by Five Star Publishing in June 2022, is the story of how in the drive to advance Manifest Destiny the nation blundered into one of its most distressing reverses. Fighting to defend their favorite buffalo hunting grounds, Lakota Chief Red Cloud’s coalition of Sioux, Northern Cheyennes, and Arapahos drove the Army out of the Powder River country of modern-day Wyoming. On a bone-chilling day in December 1866, Captain William Fetterman led eighty men into the army’s worst defeat at the hands of the Indians until Custer’s Last Stand a decade later. Despite the turmoil of virtually ceaseless Indian attacks on Fort Phil Kearny, in what at the time was part of Dakota Territory, a youthful paymaster clerk and a beautiful young schoolteacher fall in love. Their future is torn asunder when in the aftermath of the Fetterman Massacre the United States abandons the forts protecting the Bozeman Trail and closes the shortest route used by immigrants to reach Montana’s goldfields. Red Cloud’s War was the only war the American Indians won fighting the United States.

The concluding phase of Manifest Destiny occurred when the first transcontinental railroad linked the eastern and western portions of the United States enabling the rapid movement of people and goods. Before the railroad, immigrant families endured four excruciating months in a covered wagon to travel from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean. After the driving of the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit, Utah, in 1869, the trip could be made in relative comfort and safety in four days. Murphy’s Iron Horse Chronicles trilogy provides an engaging way for readers to understand the difficulties encountered in achieving the nineteenth century’s greatest engineering feat, while wrapping their imaginations around the escapades and challenges of a young hero, his lady friend, and their enemies.

Eagle Talons, The Iron Horse Chronicles–Book One, was released in October 2014, by Five Star Publishing. Bear Claws, The Iron Horse Chronicles–Book Two, was published in November 2015. Golden Spike, The Iron Horse Chronicles–Book Three, was published July 19, 2017. Click the Books tab above to read sample chapters.

Will Rogers Medallion AwardEagle Talons won the 2015 Bronze Will Rogers Medallion Award for Western Fiction for Younger Readers. Bear Claws won the 2016 Silver Will Rogers Medallion Award for Western Fiction for Younger Readers. Golden Spike won the 2018 Silver Will Rogers Medallion Award for Western Fiction for Younger Readers.


WSHS Award-StickerBear Claws
was awarded First Place in the Publications Category Fiction for 2016 by the Wyoming State Historical Society, “in recognition of the outstanding accomplishments and contributions to Wyoming’s legacy.”

Eagle Talons, Bear Claws, and Golden Spike are currently available in Five Star Publishing’s hardcover editions from Amazon on-line and at Barnes & Noble bookstores or on-line. Wheeler Publishing provides paperback large-print editions of Eagle Talons, Bear Claws, and Golden Spike. Amazon offers Kindle versions and trade paperback editions of all three books. Click the links in the sidebar to Robert Lee Murphy at Amazon or Barnes & Noble to order books.

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