Milligan notes in his prefatory remarks that the names of certain families and ships in With the Wind, Kevin Dolan are drawn from documentary records, and its "events" are derived from what is known historically of the beginnings of the Power Colony in the vicinity of Refugio, Texas, in 1834. His principal characters, Tom and Kevin Dolan, though, are entirely fictional. As characterizations of brawn and brain respectively, the two are rounded out through witty anecdotal incidents, from playing pranks on English soldiers to encountering Indians in Texas.
Yet what distinguishes this first novel from the multitude of other stories for the "young adult" is its frank and non-ideological treatment of the moral problems of political and economic oppression. Milligan does not simply use the novel as a polemic against the English and the policies which impoverished their Irish subjects. Most remarkably, Milligan allows Kevin to contemplate the ironies of a Texas where " . . . Mexico was oppressing both the colonists and its own Mexican citizens. The Texans were oppressing the Indians whose land this was to begin with, and it seemed clear the United States was intent on killing every Indian who tried to hold onto a piece of land that a white man wanted."
(from a review by Ed Conroy)
I commend and recommend Bryce Milligan's novel, With the Wind, Kevin Dolan, which so clearly teaches several lessons. His secret is that he is firstly a storyteller and secondly and almost incidentally the gentlest of teachers. There are many lessons here: lessons of history, lessons about oppressors and the oppressed, lessons about courage, hope, and love. . . .
– from the Introduction, by Patricia Donlon, Director, National Library of Ireland