Good Reads, Good Friends

Recuperation From A Mishap
Can Have Unforeseen Benefits

By Mike “Duke” Venturino

Recently I wrote in this column about recovering from open-heart surgery, by which I was laid up for several months. My passions of shooting and reloading were both forbidden. My third passion of reading was not. My sister, a retired librarian, gave me a tip. She advised I try some “end of civilization” books because they seemed to be full of gun terminology. She said she didn’t understand what it meant but I surely would.

So I took her advice and discovered Franklin Horten’s Borrowed World series, at that time consisting of three novels. Even mentioned in them was my tiny hometown of Williamson, West Virginia. But three books (there since is a fourth) didn’t last long in my situation so I searched for more. There are indeed more—lots more—but I draw the limit at zombies and vampires and such.

Then I came across another series called The New Homefront by Steven C. Bird. Initially my eye was caught by the cover picture of Volume One—a huge airliner coursing over an obviously distressed city. There were four volumes in Mr. Bird’s series so I gave them a try. And I’m glad I did for not only was there much enjoyable reading in his work but I also gained a friend—actually two friends.

But first, the books: Volume One is titled The Last Layover and in it an airline crew with Evan Baird as pilot and Jason Jones as co-pilot make a routine flight to New York City and also routinely are put up in a hotel. During the night, society begins to unravel due to attacks on infrastructure of unknown origins. Evan and Jason along with one of their flight attendants decide to try to get themselves home to Tennessee and Ohio respectively. Both pilots being Preppers, they have their “Bug-Out Bags” along but here’s a fact I did not know. After September 11, 2001, there came a Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) Program authorized by Congress. It allows properly trained pilots to carry firearms. The author has Evan and Jason armed with SIG SAUER P229 .40 S&W pistols. Good start!


This is the cover of the first book in Steven C. Bird’s The Homefront
series and it hooked Duke into reading all his books published so far.


This is the cover in the first book in Steven C. Bird’s The Shepherd series.

I’m not going to give everything away here. Evan and Jason do get their flight attendant and themselves home to their families. Evan has named his Tennessee farm “The Homefront” with preparations for just this sort of emergency, so all of them eventually gather there. In order the next three books are titled The Guardians, The Blue Ridge Resistance and The Resolution. If those particular titles don’t intrigue you, then you have a lower level of curiosity than I.

I will relate one thing that helped hook me. One Tennessee character named Daryl dressed “Old West” and his firearms include a Winchester Model 1886 .45-70 and an Uberti copy of the Remington Model 1875 .45 Colt. Daryl loads both guns with black powder. Yeah, that got my attention.

After those four books I went looking for more material with Steven C. Bird’s name and came across another titled The Shepherd: Society Lost. Again, I won’t give away the storyline but again, a specific firearms mention hooked me. The hero of the story Jessie packs a Colt Single Action Army revolver. It was passed on to him by his father but this is different. Instead of its original .38 WCF (.38-40) caliber it was rebarreled and recylindered to .357 Magnum.

After reading these five books I thought Mr. Bird deserved a hearty atta-boy. So I contacted him via social media. We corresponded a bit with me learning as I suspected he had indeed been an airline pilot and has a farm in Tennessee. Now his primary job is flying corporate jets. One of his flights in the summer of 2016 was to come to my town in Montana where he would have a layover. So I invited him and his co-pilot Paul Funk to visit me.


Duke and Steven C. Bird on Duke’s private Montana range. Duke is holding
his German MP44 “Sturmgewehr” and Bird is holding an M1 Thompson.

We had a great time. I turned them loose in my gun vault and we talked both old and new guns in there. The day was young and the weather good so I told them if they wished to pick out some of my full-autos we would have some fun on my home range. And we did! They picked my M1 Thompson .45 ACP (everybody loves Thompsons!) and the MP44 Sturmgewehr 7.92x33mm Kurz. I added in the PPsh41 7.62x25mm Tokarev because firing it with its 1,100+ RPM (rounds per minute) cyclic rate is something all shooters should experience. (Both men are avid shooters.) We had a great time blazing away at steel targets but—even better—we took time to sit in lawn chairs and just talk guns and writing and the sorry state of this nation’s political affairs.

Also I learned there was soon to be another volume in The Shepherd series. (I’ve since read it.) Steve said he was mulling over whether a fifth part to The New Homefront would work or to let it end with four. He had wisely put such an ending to The Resolution that things were not left hanging. My vote to Steve was to do another. Not only did I like his characterizations, but I wanted to see Daryl drag out a Sharps and go long range with it!

We’ll have to wait and see what his creative mind will come up with next, but I can say this: Steve and Paul are always welcome here and I will read everything Steve writes.

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2 thoughts on “Good Reads, Good Friends

  1. John W. Rushford

    You mentioned a forth book in Franklin Horten’s series. What’s the name of it? Amazon doesn’t show it.
    Thank you. Love your column.
    John, Springfield, VT

  2. Susan A Williams

    Different thread-read your article “Gun-Guys can like Cats too”. This was the only site I could contact you! First off, loved the article. Sounds like you and your wife are two very loving people! You are definitely a good pet steward! We also live in an area where cats are abandoned! Our last cat we assimilated into our family was actually fixed when we found her! That is unheard of around here! Anyway, loved your artice!


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