Oleander City: A Novel Based on a True Story

Written by:
Matt Bondurant

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
June 2022
8 hours 41 minutes
In the wake of the 1900 Galveston hurricane, three lives converge despite persecution from the Ku Klux Klan, a bare-knuckle boxing match gone wrong, and the recovery efforts of the American Red Cross.

Based on a true story

The hurricane of 1900, America’s worst natural disaster, left the island city of Galveston in ruins. Thousands perished, including all ninety-three children at the Sisters of the Incarnate Word orphanage—except six-year-old Hester, who miraculously survived. Oleander City is the tale of this little girl and the volatile collision between the American Red Cross, the Ku Klux Klan, and one of the most famous boxing matches in American history. The bout, organized to raise money for the recovery effort, featured the enigmatic veteran “Chrysanthemum Joe” Choynski, the most successful Jewish boxer in America, and Jack Johnson, a young hometown hero known as “the Galveston Giant.” The storied battle forged a bond between the two legendary fighters and put Johnson on the path to become the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time.

Meanwhile, Clara Barton and the Red Cross minister to the sick and hungry as mounted vigilantes use the chaotic situation to settle old scores. After witnessing a terrible crime, Hester finds sanctuary with the ladies of the Red Cross, in a heartrending convergence of these historic figures.
Browse By Category
Profile Avatar
Patrick M.

I really enjoyed this historical novel. The way the author frames the story and develops the charters relationship is amazing. My first book by Matt Bondurant but it won’t be the last.

Profile Avatar

Is was good. I liked the individual perspective of each of the characters in the story.

Profile Avatar
Dianne S.

Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Emotional...felt absorbed into it.

Profile Avatar
Mendel G.

A remarkable story, well told. From the sources that I found after reading, the novel really reflects the awful disaster that befell Galveston and the terrible aftermath which the survivors faced. The human suffering was at once made better by the efforts of many, including the Red Cross, and made worse by those who espoused and acted upon age-old in-bred Southern hatred for Blacks, Jews and foreigners. Stylistically, the author chose not to use antiquated idioms or dialect and at times, when telling Hester's ( the child survivor) story, he did not change the vocabulary to make it sound like a child's thoughts ( and, actually, she doesnt speak any of it--it is her thoughts). But I think in the end that was the correct choice.

Profile Avatar
Lora H.

The entire range of man-from depths of depravity (the clan. Jails, corrupt power brokers), to unwavering dedication (nuns, Clara Barton Red Cross, international donors, the rabbi). To see Galveston today and understand history and rebuilding

Profile Avatar
Leticia P.

The book was much better than I thought, we’ll written and very well read.

1 book added to cart
View Cart