In Heavy Harness
David R. Sturtevant’s novel, In Heavy Harness, portrays the American attempt to establish civil order in the Philippine Islands following the 1902 Insurrection through the adventures of First Sergeant John Stewart of the U.S Ninth Infantry. Battle-hardened John Stewart accepted a position with the Philippine Constabulary, the American-officered native police force whose primary task was to police the archipelago's seven thousand islands. Over the next decade, Stewart’s Constabulary Company engaged in firefights and hand-to-hand combat with numerous tribes, zealous religious sects and their leaders, drones, and mountain cults that robbed and murdered as a way of life.
David Sturtevant weaves the colonial history of the Philippines (1902-1913) into a story suffused with well-defined, often heroic characters, great action scenes, the authentic dialogue and lifestyle of American soldiers serving in faraway corners of the world, descriptions of Stewart’s provincial travels that touch on sheep-sized bats and other exotic flora, fauna, and wildlife, and his romantic interludes with native and American women. Sturtevant has a keen eye for memorable details of daily life in the Philippines in the early 1900s ranging from young native girls rolling perfecto cigars on their inner thighs in Manila tobacco factories to the intrigue fostered by native politicians vying for power against the American administrators of the same city.
In Heavy Harness showcases the difficulties America still faces today trying to co-exist across the globe with religious, political, and nationalistic minority groups espousing conflicting goals and objectives; a persistent, pervasive theme of much of man’s history.