Old Jules is unquestionably Mari Sandoz’s most well known work. This portrait of her pioneer father grew out of “the silent hours of listening behind the stove or the wood box, when it was assumed, of course, that I was asleep in bed. So it was that I heard the accounts of the hunts,” Sandoz recalls. "Of the fights with the cattlemen and the sheepmen, of the tragic scarcity of women, when a man had to ‘marry anything that got off the train,’ of the droughts, the storms, the wind and isolation. But the most impressive stories were those told me by Old Jules himself.”
Many in the Sandhills and High Plains today knew Old Jules or know someone who did. Sandoz’ detached depiction of this determined and often violent man is not a typical depiction of a father by a daughter. This account is, however, one of the most accurate and gritty you will find on any bookshelf.