On the surface, I Dreamt I was in Heaven is a fictional retelling of a true story of the American West: In the waning days of what was called “Indian Territory,” the multi-racial, teenaged Rufus Buck Gang embarked on a vicious, childish, and deadly 13-day rampage that shocked even that lawless place. Their goal was to take back Native American lands.

What makes the novel especially captivating, however, is how it distills a racial ideology that still affects life in the U.S. today. If you’ve ever wondered how evil and good can coexist in the American racial conscience, then this book, by Leonce Gaiter, is worthy of consideration.

To read opening chapters from the book at the author’s website, click here.