Ronald E. Yates is a former award-winning foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Illinois where he was also the Dean of the College of Media.
He is the author of the Finding Billy Battles trilogy the first in a series of novels. The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles, published in May 2016, is the second book in the series. He is also the author of The Kikkoman Chronicles: A Global Company with A Japanese Soul, published by McGraw-Hill. Other books include Aboard The Tokyo Express: A Foreign Correspondent’s Journey Through Japan, a collection of columns translated into Japanese, as well as three journalism textbooks: The Journalist’s Handbook, International Reporting and Foreign Correspondents, and Business and Financial Reporting in a global Economy.
Yates lived and worked as a foreign correspondent in Japan, China, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America where he covered several major stories including the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia in 1975, the 1989 Tiananmen Square tragedy in Beijing, and revolutions in Nicaragua, El Salvador an Guatemala.
His work as a foreign correspondent resulted in three Pulitzer Prize nominations and several other awards, including the Peter Lisagor Award from the Society of Professional Journalists; The Inter-American Press Association Award for coverage of South America; and three Edward Scott Beck Awards for international reporting.
Yates is a graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. He lives in Murrieta, California.
Billy Battles is definitely not in Kansas anymore.
As Book 2 of the Finding Billy Battles trilogy opens, Billy is far from his Kansas roots and his improbable journeys are just starting.
The year is 1894 and Billy is aboard the S S China sailing to the inscrutable Far East. Trouble is not far behind. He has met a mysterious and possibly dangerous German Baroness. He has locked horns with malevolent agents of the German government and battled ferocious Chinese and Malay pirates in the South China Sea.
Later, he is embroiled in the bloody anti-French insurgency in Indochina–which quite possibly makes him the first American combatant in a country that eventually will become Vietnam. Then, in the Philippines, he is thrust into the Spanish-American War and the brutal anti-American insurgency that follows. But Billy’s troubles are only beginning.
As the 19th century ends and the 20th century begins, he finds himself entangled with political opportunists, spies, revolutionaries, and an assortment of vindictive and dubious characters of both sexes. How will Billy handle those people and the challenges they present? The answers are just ahead.
One Special Book Review: You can’t help but be intrigued and fascinated by the intrepid, larger-than-life protagonist in Ronald Yates’ entertaining and thoughtful second book of his Finding Billy Battles trilogy. This time, you see how Billy’s tumultuous life begins to impact him in middle age as he seeks his next adventures to distract him from past grief and guilt. Yates has an effective way of revealing interesting details of exotic places during historic periods–this time primarily in the Orient of the late 19th and early 20th centuries–while weaving in a fascinating tale of a man in perpetual motion. One can’t help but find interesting parallels at Yates’ deft hand between Billy’s unrest and that of French Indochina and the Philippines during a time of conflict and pushback over European colonization. Ray Elliott, Author of, With the Silent Knowledge, Iwo Blasted Again, and Wild Hands Toward the Sky
Three Pulitzer Prize nominations by the Chicago Tribune
The Peter Lisagor Award from the Society of Professional Journalists
The Inter-American Press Association Tom Wallace Award for coverage of South America
Three Edward Scott Beck Awards for international reporting.
Cold Coffee Press Book Review: The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles is the sequel to Finding Billy Battles. I jumped right into this book without reading the first in this trilogy and found it to be a compelling story based on fact and expanded by narrative fiction.
Ted Sayles who is the great-grandson of Billy Battles inherits Billy’s journals and while writing this trilogy he stays very true to the language of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. While this book opens in 1894 with William (Billy) Battles heading for the Orient aboard the SS China it covers his time in the Far East, Latin America, and Europe.
It is aboard the SS China that Billy meets German Baroness Katharina von Schreiber. She is gorgeous and regal, far out of reach of a Kansas scribbler (journalist). Since you have probably read the book’s description I wrestle with what to share with you from this amazing story and journey that Billy Battles is about to embark on. So I have decided to quote this passage to whet your appetite. I quote:
“Katharina’s cabin was a bit larger than mine was, and like mine, its walls were covered with dark mahogany panels. In addition to the two overstuffed chairs and writing table, she also had a small dining table. That is where we settled, she on one side and me on the other.
“I’m sorry, I have nothing to offer you to drink.” Then she paused, stood up, and walked to her wardrobe where she produced a tear-shaped bottle of Glenglassaugh single malt Scotch whiskey and two heavy cut crystal glasses. “Except for this.”
She returned and placed the glasses on the table in front of us. “May I?” she asked, and then uncorking the bottle, she poured two fingers in each glass. “This was my late husband’s favorite.”
I shuddered imperceptibly at that remark but pulled the glass toward me anyway. Images of Katharina pushing Baron von Schreiber over a cliff or poisoning him with arsenic-laced Wiener schnitzel flooded my mind.
I forced those macabre thoughts out of my mind by focusing on the rich amber hue of the whiskey as I uneasily swirled the glass around and around in front of me.
What was I doing? I found myself thinking. Why was I in Katharina Schreiber’s cabin about to drink expensive single malt Scotch whiskey with a woman who had just admitted she had killed, but not murdered, her husband?”
Murder, mystery, intrigue, people, places and events that were intended to divert Billy’s attention from his past soon gets him embroiled in Katharina’s past, with the German government, not to mention Chinese and Malay pirates. Later on he finds himself perhaps the first American to be involved in the Anti-French insurgency in Indochina which will later be called Vietnam and involve America. War will not end there as he is forced into the Spanish-American War while in the Philippines.
Just as life takes many unexpected turns for Billy Battles so will your desire to keep turning the pages of this book to find out what is it about Billy Battles that causes him to try to escape his past, endure his new reality and find measured peace as he heads into the twilight of his life.
I invite you to read The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles as it is a journey worth your time. Be sure to read Finding Billy Battles (book one in this trilogy) while waiting for the author to write the final book in this amazing trilogy.
Author Ronald E. Yates life experience as a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune in Japan, China, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America gives him the authority with which he writes. It is important to point out he won “three Pulitzer Prize nominations and several other awards, including the Peter Lisagor Award from the Society of Professional Journalists; The Inter-American Press Association Award for coverage of South America; and three Edward Scott Beck Awards for international reporting. He is a graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. He lives in Murrieta, California.”
I, Theodocia Mclean (Cold Coffee Press) endorse The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles (Trilogy Book Two) by Ronald E. Yates. Ronald E. Yates is the author of the Finding Billy Battles (book one in this trilogy) and The Kikkoman Chronicles: A Global Company with A Japanese Soul, Aboard The Tokyo Express: A Foreign Correspondent’s Journey Through Japan as well as three journalism textbooks: The Journalist’s Handbook, International Reporting and Foreign Correspondents, and Business and Financial Reporting in a global Economy. I purchased and reviewed this book from Kindle. This review was completed on June 17, 2016.
Genre: Literature & Fiction, Historical Fiction, French, German, Action & Adventure, War & Military
When a great-grandson inherits two aging trunks and a stack of meticulously detailed journals penned by his great-grandfather, he sets out to fulfill his great-grandfather’s last request: to tell the story of an incredible life replete with adventure, violence, and tragedy. The great-grandfather’s name is Billy Battles–a man often trapped and overwhelmed by circumstances beyond his control.
For much of his 100-year-long life Billy is a man missing and largely unknown to his descendants. His great-grandson is about to change that. As he works his way through the aging journals and the other possessions he finds in the battered trunks he uncovers the truth about his mysterious great-grandfather–a man whose deeds and misdeeds propelled him on an extraordinary and perilous journey from the untamed American West to the inscrutable Far East, Latin America and Europe.
As he flips through the pages of the handwritten journals he learns of Billy’s surprising connections to the Spanish-American War, French Indochina, and revolutions in Mexico and other Latin American countries. But most of all he learns that in finding Billy Battles he has also found a long lost and astonishing link to the past.
One Special Book Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Historical Fiction Amazon Verified Purchase Review
Most of my relatives are normal, boring people. They have interesting anecdotes and some cool experiences, but overall there is nothing that will make me sit back and listen to them for hours on end. Billy Battles is nothing like these people.
Apparently taken partially from a real life person, this tale is told through the great grandson of Billy Battles reading through the personal journals of his life as a young man, exploring the world and discovering himself.
Having studied history, the research involved in this book is striking and very thorough. The language, the details, the people and cultures, are very true to life, and I have to take my hat off to Ronald Yates. Yet the book doesn’t just rest on being factual. Through the journals, I got a very close look at Billy, and the people he met, which humanized several actual historical characters, without taking any undue liberties to make them fit a certain mold.
I read this book in a day and half the night, and I don’t regret the lost sleep.
Reviewed by Dan Clarke
Genre: Literature & Fiction, Historical Fiction, French, German, Action & Adventure, War & Military