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West Like Lightning: The Brief, Legendary…
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West Like Lightning: The Brief, Legendary Ride of the Pony Express (2018 original; edició 2018)

de Jim DeFelice (Autor)

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9515219,965 (3.61)7
2019 Spur Awards Finalist, Best Western Historical Nonfiction * The new definitive history of the Pony Express, illustrated with 50 images "A GROUNDBREAKING WORK. ... The first comprehensive history of the legendary transcontinental experiment in mail delivery in sixty years." --True West "This rollicking account of the daring enterprise known as the Pony Express brings its era and its legendary characters to life." --San Francisco Chronicle "Sure to stand amongst the great popular histories of the West." --Tombstone Epitaph On the eve of the Civil War, three American businessmen launched an audacious plan to create a financial empire by transforming communications across the hostile territory between the nation's two coasts. In the process, they created one of the most enduring icons of the American West: the Pony Express. Daring young men with colorful names like "Bronco Charlie" and "Sawed-Off Jim" galloped at speed over a vast and unforgiving landscape, etching an irresistible tale that passed into myth almost instantly. Equally an improbable success and a business disaster, the Pony Express came and went in just eighteen months, but not before uniting and captivating a nation on the brink of being torn apart. Jim DeFelice's brilliantly entertaining West Like Lightning is the first major history of the Pony Express to put its birth, life, and legacy into the full context of the American story. The Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company--or "Pony Express," as it came to be known--was part of a plan by William Russell, Alexander Majors, and William Waddell to create the next American Express, a transportation and financial juggernaut that already dominated commerce back east. All that stood in their way were almost two thousand miles of uninhabited desert, ice-capped mountains, oceanic plains roamed by Indian tribes, whitewater-choked rivers, and harsh, unsettled wilderness. The Pony used a relay system of courageous horseback riders to ferry mail halfway across a continent in just ten days. The challenges the riders faced were enormous, yet the Pony Express succeeded, delivering thousands of letters at record speed. The service instantly became the most direct means of communication between the eastern United States and its far western territories, helping to firmly connect them to the Union. Populated with cast of characters including Abraham Lincoln (news of whose electoral victory the Express delivered to California), Wild Bill Hickock, Buffalo Bill Cody (who fed the legend of the Express in his Wild West Show), and Mark Twain (who celebrated the riders in Roughing It), West Like Lightning masterfully traces the development of the Pony Express and follows it from its start in St. Joseph, Missouri--the edge of the civilized world--west to Sacramento, the capital of California, then booming from the gold rush. Jim DeFelice, who traveled the Pony's route in his research, plumbs the legends, myths, and surprising truth of the service, exploring its lasting relevance today as a symbol of American enterprise, audacity, and daring.… (més)
Membre:ithomson
Títol:West Like Lightning: The Brief, Legendary Ride of the Pony Express
Autors:Jim DeFelice (Autor)
Informació:William Morrow (2018), Edition: Illustrated, 368 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca, Per llegir
Valoració:
Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

Detalls de l'obra

West Like Lightning: The Brief, Legendary Ride of the Pony Express de Jim DeFelice (2018)

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Es mostren 1-5 de 16 (següent | mostra-les totes)
History I know little about. ( )
  MarianneAudio | Aug 14, 2020 |
I received this book through Goodreads giveaways, and I suspect the publisher will regret that choice lol.

I majored in American history, and studied western history in grad school, but never completed my master's thesis (I received a graduate certificate and unexpectedly found a full-time job right away).

The blurb on the cover is "A groundbreaking work."--True West. What is True West? It's a magazine for fans of the "history of the American frontier". It's a magazine that romanticizes western history and westerners of today (as long as they fit the rancher, western artist, western author, musician, gatekeeper of Western Lore theme). Anyway, I couldn't read the blurb when I entered the giveaway. And I fail to see how this is groundbreaking. DeFelice may have combined the works of others into one book, but honestly this feels like a high school history paper. It doesn't even have a map! If any book needed a map, it's this one.

The book starts off in a promising fashion--Lincoln has just been elected, and we are going to follow the riders as they take that news West to Utah and California. Only then the book spins out of control. The chapters are all over the place. The book actually follows no timeline--the creation of the Pony is in the middle, Buffalo Bill is nearer the beginning when his chapter should be at the end (where he currently has a page or 2), discussing in full how his show was so important to the romanticization of the Pony Express. Yes, there are chapters following the riders, with a lot of mention of "we don't know where this station was, or if this was a station." There is also a chapter on Buffalo Bill (who was not involved in the Pony Express until he put it in his show many years later). There is a chapter about the LDS church and how/why they ended up in Utah. There is a lot of Civil War background. There is the Donner Party. There is the Comstock Lode.

DeFelice's original research seems to have been his trip driving the route and visiting museums. He relies very heavily on Richard Burton, a British traveler who recorded his experiences in depth. He is liberally quoted. DeFelice "liberally paraphrases" two chapters of an 1879 book on Buffalo Bill. In the acknowledgments, he says "previous stories and studies of the Pony were a foundation I've tried to build on." He has taken some primary sources, a lot of secondary sources that also use those primary sources, some newspapers and censuses, and a road trip to put this book together. He does not seem to have done any new work to attempt to locate stations (or to determine if some stations really were stations at all), he mentions looking at Congressional records to try to determine the exact nature of the house of cards (house of bonds, really) to keep the Pony afloat. He writes rumor as fact and then backs off in the notes (how many people read the notes? see page 129 and note 8). He also has a number of statements like "...and probably questions about whether they would be paid or not" (250)--regarding the service continuing even as the offices were in financial turmoil. Probably? Is there any evidence one way or the other? Had they ever not paid? Did the riders even know of the turmoil? He makes statements like this and provides no citations, no mention of research attempted, nothing.

I also struggle to take seriously a history book that characterizes real people in the past as "a rough SOB", "a world class hard-ass", "badass", "government being government", and "verifiably awesome".

And the errors. So many errors! p 12 implant instead of transplant; p 19 William Russell is a native of Missouri p 20 he was born in Vermont; p 31 describes a log cabin quilt as "patchwork...in various shapes"--no, just squares and rectangles, this is a very common pattern to this day; 121 midfall instead of mid-fall; and honestly I stopped keeping track. My copy is not an ARC.

Overall, just painfully disappointing. This is not a self-published book, it's from Wm Morrow! ( )
  Dreesie | Oct 14, 2019 |
The Pony Express is such a fascinating topic. I really wanted to like this book, and the author has obviously done his research, but it seems that actual facts are very difficult to track down. The end notes and supplementary material are the most interesting parts of this book, but they would have worked up into a small brochure. To get this story up to full book length, the author dragged in anything and everything that occurred in the West within decades of the short lived Pony Express. Oregon Trail, Mormon migration, Donner party, California gold rush, etc. Surprisingly, the Comstock Lode, which actually was contemporaneous with the Pony Express, is barely mentioned, although some of the miners from the Comstock became involved in the Pyramid Lake War that heavily affected Pony Express operations. ( )
  oregonobsessionz | Sep 18, 2019 |
West Like Lightning is a fun, very entertaining look at the brief history of the Pony Express. While the Pony Express only ran for 18 months, it has lived on in myth and legend ever since it's first days.

Jim DeFelice does a good job of presenting the story of the Pony Express, using the delivery of the news of Abraham Lincoln's election along the route of the Pony as the framework to talk about the people that built and operated the Pony Express, from the business men who thought up the idea, to the riders and station masters who staffed the route. I found using this method of presenting the history of the Pony Express to be quite interesting as most histories are presented in a chronological order. What DeFelice does is use a geographic order (east to west along the route) and mixes up the chronology as he goes, jumping forward and backward in time to suite the narrative. It took a little bit to get used to, but was an effective tool for talking about the Pony.

In a few places I found that DeFelice went on a few longer tangents, straying from the main narrative about the Pony to talk about some of the more famous people associated with the Pony Express, or who provided contemporary (relatively) commentary about the men who rode the express. From Samuel Clemens, to Buffalo Bill Cody, and "Wild Bill" Hickok, DeFelice adds longish biographies that liven up the story, but seemed to ramble and stray at times from the focus of the narrative on the Pony Express. (That doesn't mean that I didn't find this information interesting or informative, I just wondered at times when we'd get back to talking about the Pony Express.)

I did learn a lot about the Pony Express, and the period in 1860 and '61 when it was in operation. Learning that towns like St. Joseph, Missouri courted and provided incentives to the owners of the Pony Express to anchor the eastern terminus of the route - in the same way that cities today court large companies to build their factories or headquarters - was very interesting. Or how the Pony Express was never intended to ever be a money maker, or to last beyond the time it took to build the telegraph lines. That it had a planned obsolescence was quite interesting.

Overall I recommend West Like Lightning. If you have any interest in American history, an interest in the Old West, or a look into how people dealt with the harsh conditions of moving across and settling the western part of the country, then you will enjoy Jim's look into the Pony Express.

I listened to the audiobook version of this book, narrated by John Pruden. There were no problems with the audio production and Mr. Pruden does a great job of bringing the history and people of the Pony Express to life. ( )
  GeoffHabiger | Feb 8, 2019 |
Ressenya escrita per a Crítics Matiners de LibraryThing .
I did enjoy 'West Like Lightning', but unfortunately, because of the loss of most records that involve the Pony Express, a large portion of the story itself is speculation. I don't fault the author for this, Jim DeFelice does a good job of filling in the gaps with relevant stories of the time that tie back to the Pony Express, such as, Wild Bill Hickok. There is also a good background on the founders of the Pony Express. Overall, the author provides a well written account on what is known of the Pony Express as well as providing additional peripheral details of the time. ( )
  cweller | Jul 24, 2018 |
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November 7, 1860, 1:10 a.m. - A young man stomps back and forth on the porch of a building at the edge of the fort, nibbling on a cookie and waiting impatiently for a dispatch from St. Louis.
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2019 Spur Awards Finalist, Best Western Historical Nonfiction * The new definitive history of the Pony Express, illustrated with 50 images "A GROUNDBREAKING WORK. ... The first comprehensive history of the legendary transcontinental experiment in mail delivery in sixty years." --True West "This rollicking account of the daring enterprise known as the Pony Express brings its era and its legendary characters to life." --San Francisco Chronicle "Sure to stand amongst the great popular histories of the West." --Tombstone Epitaph On the eve of the Civil War, three American businessmen launched an audacious plan to create a financial empire by transforming communications across the hostile territory between the nation's two coasts. In the process, they created one of the most enduring icons of the American West: the Pony Express. Daring young men with colorful names like "Bronco Charlie" and "Sawed-Off Jim" galloped at speed over a vast and unforgiving landscape, etching an irresistible tale that passed into myth almost instantly. Equally an improbable success and a business disaster, the Pony Express came and went in just eighteen months, but not before uniting and captivating a nation on the brink of being torn apart. Jim DeFelice's brilliantly entertaining West Like Lightning is the first major history of the Pony Express to put its birth, life, and legacy into the full context of the American story. The Central Overland California and Pikes Peak Express Company--or "Pony Express," as it came to be known--was part of a plan by William Russell, Alexander Majors, and William Waddell to create the next American Express, a transportation and financial juggernaut that already dominated commerce back east. All that stood in their way were almost two thousand miles of uninhabited desert, ice-capped mountains, oceanic plains roamed by Indian tribes, whitewater-choked rivers, and harsh, unsettled wilderness. The Pony used a relay system of courageous horseback riders to ferry mail halfway across a continent in just ten days. The challenges the riders faced were enormous, yet the Pony Express succeeded, delivering thousands of letters at record speed. The service instantly became the most direct means of communication between the eastern United States and its far western territories, helping to firmly connect them to the Union. Populated with cast of characters including Abraham Lincoln (news of whose electoral victory the Express delivered to California), Wild Bill Hickock, Buffalo Bill Cody (who fed the legend of the Express in his Wild West Show), and Mark Twain (who celebrated the riders in Roughing It), West Like Lightning masterfully traces the development of the Pony Express and follows it from its start in St. Joseph, Missouri--the edge of the civilized world--west to Sacramento, the capital of California, then booming from the gold rush. Jim DeFelice, who traveled the Pony's route in his research, plumbs the legends, myths, and surprising truth of the service, exploring its lasting relevance today as a symbol of American enterprise, audacity, and daring.

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