John (William) Jakes Critical Essays


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

John (William) Jakes 1932–

(Has also written under pseudonyms of Alan Payne and Jay Scotland) American novelist, short story writer, dramatist, and lyricist.

Jakes began his writing career during the early 1950s, specializing in pulp Western novels and science fiction. He has written over twenty novels in both genres, but it was the historical novel The Bastard in 1974 that made Jakes one of the most widely read of popular novelists. The Bastard is the first of eight historical novels collectively known as The American Bicentennial Series or The Kent Family Chronicles. Each volume focuses on an era in American history from colonial times through the end of the nineteenth century. Jakes's recent novel, North and South (1982), is the first part of a projected trilogy about the events surrounding the American Civil War. Discussing his work in an interview, Jakes stated that his books "may be the only shot some people have at history." Critics acknowledge Jakes's thorough research and praise his ability to maintain the reader's interest by using colorful prose and fast-moving plots.

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 57-60).