Donald McCaig, who was born in Butte in 1940, once published a novel about his hometown, though he is better known for books about sheepdogs and Virginia.
“The Butte Polka” is about “Red” mine furnace stoker Joe Kangas and his mysterious death in one of Butte’s mines, likely at the hands of “the company.”
McCaig didn’t leave Montana until the 1960s, after he’d graduated from Montana State University with a degree in philosophy. He published his Butte novel in 1980.
But much of McCaig’s later works are about his chosen home, a farm in rural western Virginia, the Civil War and his life training border collies. He and his wife, Anne, settled in William-sville, Va., in 1971, and McCaig has been writing love stories to the place ever since.
His biography “An American Homeplace” is raising sheep, sheepdogs and food on their rural farm after leaving jobs in New York City. His 1998 novel, “Jacob’s Ladder,” and his 2008 novel, “Canaan,” won the Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction.
He also wrote a sequel to “Gone with the Wind” called “Rhett Butler’s People” that was authorized by the Margaret Mitchell estate. He has a forthcoming prequel to “Gone with the Wind” about the character Mammy called “Ruth’s Journey” that will be released later this year.
On the subject of sheepdogs, McCaig has written several novels and some nonfiction books, mostly notably “Nop’s Trials,” “Nop’s Hope” and “Mr. and Mrs. Dog: Our Travels, Trials, Adventures, and Epiphanies.” McCaig has competed in the World Sheepdog Trials in Wales.
McCaig has also written poetry for Harper’s Magazine, nonfiction in The Atlantic, GQ, Outside, Sports Illustrated and Smithsonian. He has done radio commentaries on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.
Butte-Silver Bow Public Library has a good selection of his works.