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West Like Lightning : The Brief, Legendary…

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

by Jim DeFelice

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5512304,677 (3.95)5
Title:West Like Lightning : The Brief, Legendary Ride of the Pony Express
Authors:Jim DeFelice
Info:HarperCollins 2018.
Tags:TKE, non-fiction

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West Like Lightning: The Brief, Legendary Ride of the Pony Express by Jim DeFelice



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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
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 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Mr. DeFelice shows us in wonderful detail the life and death of the Central Overland California & Pikes Peak Express Company, commonly known as the Pony Express. This cross-country mail service was thought up by several prominent business men just before the start of our Civil War and lasted for a about a yearand a half. The wondeful detail of this bookshows the reader a pretty wild ride. Mr. DeFelice brings the history home by showing us a slice of the story dealing with the six-day November 1860 trip that brought news of Abraham Lincoln’s presidential victory from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento, Calif., the Pony’s main route. The very rough and dangerous ride details riders encounters with feuding settlers in Kansas, buffalo stampedes, and hostile Native Americans.Mr. DeFelice I feel puts to rest stories about the Pony Express, especially the involvement of “Wild Bill” Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody. He details through the book details about the cost of the service ,the process for getting fresh horses, even the kinds of food the riders ate. If you like history of where we as nation came from and how you’ll love this book. ( )
  Elliot1822 | Jun 20, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm a fan of history and the old west, but had only a passing knowledge of the Pony Express. This book could be used as a resource for a research paper on the Pony Express, but with a writing style that was engaging and interesting. I enjoyed the writer's ability to convey historical fact through personal narrative, bringing to life the people involved and the times in which they lived, so it's not just dates and events on a page, but a real story. Traditional sections looking back with analysis to what and why are interspersed with first-hand accounts describing the riders and rides, following them on real journeys.

It also felt like this book could be read cover-to-cover, or by skipping around using the ample section headings to pick and choose the elements that interest the reader the most. If you don't care about the backgrounds of the founders of the company, skip to the part on Wild Bill, or on Bloody Kansas; if you are writing a paper and need to explain the circumstances that made the Pony Express possible, that is also easy to find.
  herzogbr | Jun 17, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, and delayed starting it, fearing that it might be a bit dry. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was very well-written and was very readable and entertaining. I knew about the Pony Express, of course, but I certainly did not know the details, nor even that it lasted for such a short time. The author makes the point that it has reached an almost mythological level in American history, but it was quite short-lived and very quickly supplanted by the telegraph and railroads.

The story begins with a rider anxiously awaiting the news of the election results of 1860. The author immediately pulls the reader into the tense excitement of this time, as well as the circumstances of the riders, who were admired for their courage and fortitude. The author introduces us to some of the riders, but with the caution that much of the information concerning the riders, and the Pony Express itself, is uncertain. The route from Missouri to California is traced, and the author provides a great deal of information about the stations along the way, the background of the enterprise, and the general historical context of both the nation as a whole, and of the West in particular. He divides his book into sections of stories, such as about the riders' encounters with Mormons out west, or with the Paiutes and other Indians, as well as stories of various famous figures of the West, including Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill, and Jack Slade. The author includes the description of Slade written by Mark Twain with all of his customary wit and style.

I truly enjoyed this book and I'm happy to have learned more about this unique time in American history. I would recommend to anyone who has an interest in the West or American history of the 1860s. ( )
  Dgryan1 | Jun 3, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I always enjoy reading narrative microhistory that has a rip-roaring yarn PLUS lots of historical context for readers. Humor helps. West Like Lightning has all three. And it’s easy to tell that the author is also a fiction writer/storyteller -- the book is well sourced, but with a more journalistic feel, and without a hint of academese.

However, I thought that IN SECTIONS, there were too many facts crammed in, making it a tedious slog. And what this bound galley lacked (and I hope the finished book will have) was a map. My favorite college history teacher ALWAYS included maps in her handouts and lectures, saying history and geography go together. Illustrations and/or photographs would have been much appreciated, too.

I read an earlier history of “The Pony,” Orphans Preferred, and found that rather light on sourcing – West Like Lightning is definitely better.

All-in-all, I enjoyed this entertaining and enlightening book -- and it was a fairly easy read.

Review based on publisher-provided bound galley. ( )
  NewsieQ | May 14, 2018 |
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In the spring of 1860 on the eve of a civil war that threatened to tear the country apart, two Americans conceived of an audacious plan for linking the nation's two coasts, thereby joining its present with its future. This book traces the development of the Pony Express and follows it from its start in St. Joseph, Missouri 1,500 miles west to Sacramento.… (more)

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