Matamoros is a rousing Civil War adventure romance set on the Rio Grande in 1863.

By 1862 the Union had blockaded all Confederate ports. Just across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas, Matamoros – a foreign port – was the only harbor where the South could ship its cotton to Europe, and smuggle in arms for the rebellion. So it became a haven for Yankee and Rebel spies, gunrunners and cotton smugglers, runaway slaves, Mexican guerreros, Texas Rangers and rogues of every stripe.

But Matamoros was also full of French Foreign Legionnaires and Austrian footsoldiers – because that same year, Napoleon III had invaded Mexico, to install Archduke Maximilian of Austria as Emperor.
Set against the backdrop of two wars, this is the story of Clay – an expatriate Southern gentleman running a gambling hall – and Allie, his ex-con artist partner, bringing her cotton train to market – in a star-crossed affair that may or may not survive their conflicted allegiances amidst the tides of battle.

If Matamoros were a movie, it would be Casablanca meets Gone With the Wind in Deadwood. A Civil War saga in the Old West.

“An in-depth view of the machinations surrounding the Civil War battle for Texas.”
~ Kirkus Reviews

“Kahn mixes his fictional characters with real historical figures, and ably presents an accurate picture of racial attitudes and tensions on the East Texas border and the low regard for human life during the savagery of the Civil War. But what makes this book particularly special is the author’s skilled development of Clayton, a character readers will like despite his many unsavory qualities.”

Two maps and a lengthy cast of characters are presented at the book’s beginning. Readers might refer to the maps occasionally, but they won’t need the character list. Kahn makes each one memorable as his engrossing tale progresses, and readers will enjoy every bit of the journey.”
~ BlueInk Review

But Matamoros isn’t just a novel. It’s also a CD of songs – each track about one of the characters in the novel. There’s an Irish folk tune sung by the Irish Legionnaire; a mariachi anthem about Quintero, the Cuban revolutionary-turned-Confederate-Spy; a sea shanty sung by the naval blockade runner; all rounded out in the Americana folk tradition. The CD is available now at Amazon, CDBaby and Spotify and can be listened to or streamed at

Brownsville/Matamoros – Then and Now

FEBRUARY 20, 2020 On Valentine’s Day I went to Brownsville to do a book signing at the Brownsville Historical Association museum, which is where I’d done some research on the Matamoros novel. The plan was to talk a little about the history of the town, do a 10 minute reading from the book, sing two …

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Tom Russell and Ramblin Jack Elliott, too

FEBRUARY 11, 2020 So some nice reviews have been rolling in for Matamoros, both the book and the CD. And then I noticed this paragraph from Jim Hynes’s review of the CD in The Daily Ripple on 1/29/2020: “Dylan had a lengthy song called “Brownsville Girl” but the preeminent comparison is the similarly literate Tom …

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So Long, The River

FEBRUARY 10, 2020 The songs on the Matamoros CD tell the stories of the characters in the book. Sometimes backstories of those characters, sometimes tales of what happens to them after the book ends, sometimes pieces of the narrative arc of the novel, but from the character’s subjective point of view, influenced by his dreams …

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Art of Escaping

Bart’s Art

JANUARY 25, 2020 Bart Bus is the amazing illustrator who did these five paintings for Matamoros. You can see more of his work – ranging from sci-fi to pop culture to classical – at The first image here is of a few Union troops atop the bell tower, above the tent city near the …

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Rip Ford and the Texas Rangers

JANUARY 12, 2020 John Salmon Ford was a doctor, a lawyer, a journalist, a Confederate Colonel, the Mayor of Brownsville, eventually a Texas Senator, and a renowned Texas Ranger. He got his nickname, “Rip” Ford, during the Mexican-American War in 1846, when he was assigned the duty of writing condolence letters to the families of …

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Vampires and Rabies

JANUARY 11, 2020 A good case has been made by some medical historians that vampires of legend were actually just people with rabies. Consider the natural course of someone infected with the rabies virus. The virus travels from the site of the bite along the nervous system, up to the brain, especially the limbic system. …

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