Kathleen O'Neal Gear & W Michael Gear

Welcome to the online home of best selling authors Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W Michael Gear.

Tag Archives: prehistory

1,000 years ago, all was not well in Denmark, Norway and England…


 PREVIEW!  PEOPLE OF THE SONGTRAIL, coming May 26th! http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/people-of-the-songtrail-kathleen-oneal-gear/1120327521?ean=9780765337252

     Father’s voice is urgent.  “And the succession, my lord?  Who rules now?”

     “Harald succeeded him, but the Danish fleet proclaimed his older half brother, Cnut, king.  In the confusion, Aethelred the Unready marched back from his exile in Normandy and drove Cnut out of England.  Aethelred rules England now and Harald is the Danish king, though Cnut asked Harald to share the kingship with him.”

     “Will he?”

     The man laughs bitterly.  “No.  But, trust me, Cnut will be king soon anyway.  Harald cannot stand against him.”

     Father glances at me, and a chill climbs my spine.

     My younger brother, Thord, leans sideways to whisper, “Why did Father look at you?”

     “I don’t know.”  But a black bubble is swelling in my chest.  When it bursts…

     “Cnuts army is mending ships.  He’s marshaling his forces to return to reconquer England.”

     Mother turns her back to us, and I watch her long red curls blow across her shoulders in the cool breeze.  She’s whispering to Father, but his tight eyes have fixed upon me and Thord.  

      “And what of our charge, sir?”

     The ealdorman pulls a jangling bag from his belt and hands it to Father.  “Personally, I think it’s a cruel myth, but if not, the girl may be useful to keep her mother in line.”

     The girl….



Those of you who’ve read our short story, THE DEAD MAN’S DOLL, have already met Thyra’s mother.  Do you really think anyone can keep her “in line”?

Yellowstone #bison and #brucellosis…should they be released on public lands across the West?

Brucellosis spinesWonder why so many people are concerned with the Dept. of Interior’s plan to release Yellowstone bison to freely roam the public lands across the western United States?  Even if they release bison without brucellosis (and 40% of bison cows in Yellowstone test positive for brucellosis) the disease is now endemic in the elk population, and many bison, including those in Yellowstone, will contract the disease from elk.  Bison on ranches are vaccinated for this disease.  However, there is no plan to vaccinate these wild bison, or to care for them if they become sick.  If people are eventually allowed to hunt these wild bison, and eat their meat, here’s why you should care:  


Culture…how we create “us” and “them.”

Food Garden of EdenThis is a fascinating article from the perspective of anthropology.  Culture is created through a process of separating “us” from “them.”  And food is certainly one of the ways we do that.  For example, if you are member of a religious culture that does not drink alcohol, the group ethic says, “We don’t pollute our bodies with alcohol.  They do.  Therefore, they are polluted.”  Dietary rules are often used as ways of identifying “us” and reinforcing group solidarity.  And we’re not saying this is bad.  Group solidarity is what culture is all about.  Every group has to define who “we” are, and social rules are largely how we do it.  

Just as a personal example, we say, “Bison is a pure clean meat.  We eat bison.  We don’t eat unclean animals,” and by that we mean animals filled with growth hormones and antibiotics.  Now, of course, we do eat unclean animals all the time when we’re away from home.  Nonetheless, the group ethic that identifies our group–the group we think we belong to–has dietary rules.  They’re just not hard and fast rules, as is generally the case with a religion-based diet.  But in a way, aren’t we ascribing a “religious” value to our diet?  Ah, there’s a hint in there somewhere that growth hormones and antibiotics in food are “evil” and “impure” and, well…maybe even “ungodly.”   THAT is what Alan Levinowitz is talking about in this article.  http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/05/the-puritanical-approach-to-food/392030/

Does your diet have “religious” values? 

Cahokian civilization. Epic fire 900 years ago…

Cahokia- TownsendMural300dpi7x3-x

Was the epic fire that destroyed more than 100 buildings around AD 1170 an accident?  Maybe a ritual cleansing?  Or an act of warfare?  Archaeologists have lots of ideas, but the event did mark the beginning of the end.  People of the Morning Star is set about a hundred years before the great fire, but you can see the seeds of discontent building…


Tambora eruption 200 years ago in Indonesia affected the world.

The climate change caused by the Tambora eruption 200 years ago had effects that we still experience today.  Ever read the novel Frankenstein?  Mary Shelley was watching the world die around her when she wrote that classic book.  It all started on April 10, 1815 when a volcano in Indonesia, called Tambora, erupted and spewed 36 cubic miles of ash and rock into the air.  The debris blocked sunlight for two years.  Called the “year without summer,” it snowed in June in New England in 1816.  The cold summer caused worldwide crop failures, followed by global famines.  The death toll from Tambora would eventually rise to more 100,000 lives.

Tambora eruption 200 years ago caldera


Search the Blog