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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743234367, Paperback)Today, most of us know the iconic red and yellow image of the Wells Fargo stagecoach only as the omnipresent logo of a huge national financial institution. Philip L. Fradkin's Stagecoach reminds us of the far more complex and colorful history of the 150-year-old enterprise it symbolizes, beginning with its heyday as an unpolished but honorable "express company" that dependably linked, by means of the stagecoach, an upstart West Coast and roughshod Rockies with everything else back East. Fradkin, author of eight books on the American West, ties the company's and region's fates together as mining, agriculture, and then more contemporary commercial interests (with help from the federal government) indelibly shaped them both. From the time of the dusty stage driver to the era of the wing-tipped banker, the book recounts it all but wisely focuses on the period from 1852 to 1918, a time when the firm "served as the principal communications conduit between East and West ... contributed to the Union victory in the Civil War ... and shipped fresh vegetables and fruits via fast refrigerated express." After reading it, you'll be hard-pressed to look at the enduring stagecoach imagery in quite the same way ever again. --Howard Rothman
(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 24 Apr 2011 15:11:26 -0400)
From award-winning writer Philip L. Fradkin, the fascinating story of the rise of Wells Fargo & Co., told against the wildest and most colorful backdrop in American history, the Old West. The trail of Wells Fargo runs through nearly every imaginable landscape and icon of Old West folklore: the California gold rush, the Pony Express, the transcontinental railroad, the Civil and Indian Wars. From the Great Plains to the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean, the company's operations embraced almost all social, cultural, and economic activities west of the Mississippi, following one of the greatest migrations in American history. Fortune-seekers arriving in California after the discovery of gold in 1849 couldn't bring the necessities of home with them. So Wells Fargo express offices began providing basic services such as the exchange of gold dust for coin, short-term deposits and loans, and reliable delivery and receipt of letters, money, and goods to distant places. As its reputation for speed and dependability grew, the sight of a red and yellow Wells Fargo stagecoach racing across the prairie came to symbolize not only safe passage, but faith in a nation's progress. Stagecoach is a fascinating and rare combination of Western and business history. Along with its colorful association with the Old West -- Wyatt Earp, Black Bart, Buffalo Bill -- readers will discover that swiftness, security, and connectivity have been constants in Wells Fargo's history, and that these themes remain just as important today, 150 years later.
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