Jim DeFelice tells the true tale of the Pony Express as part of Colorado State University’s Evening with an Author Series Sept. 17

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Kate Jeracki
Colorado State University
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It was the most audacious get-rich-quick scheme in American history, an attempt to monopolize freight, transportation, and financial services throughout half the country. So what if it involved a swindle of hundreds of thousands of dollars, bribes to government officials, and the occasional loss of an ear or other body part?

Some of the great legends of the American West, from Wild Bill Hickock to Buffalo Bill Cody, were associated with it. Hundreds of thousands of newspaper readers from New York to San Francisco relied on its dispatches. The only thing standing in its way was 1,500 miles of desert, impassible mountains, hostile natives, sociopathic killers, and religious fanatics.

It was the Pony Express.

Author Jim DeFelice celebrates the legends, separates fact from fiction, and probes the darker side of the Pony Express in his latest book, West Like Lightning. In a lively, readable style, he shows that the service was both a product and victim of its time, a lightning rod for the conflicts that were about to tear the country apart in the Civil War.

DeFelice will talk about his work Sept. 17, 7-8:30 p.m. at the Hilton Fort Collins, 425 W. Prospect Road, as part of Colorado State University Morgan Library’s Evening with an Author Series. The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Seating will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis, no registration or tickets required. A book signing and sale will follow the program.

Part love-song to our Western history and myths and part eye-opening exposé, West Like Lightning retraces the Pony Express trail, figuratively and literally, from St. Joseph, Missouri, to San Francisco, California. DeFelice makes myriad stops in between to talk about Western expansion, Native Americans, the effects of gold and silver rushes, Mormons, railroads, the telegraph, and the rifts dividing the nation even before the cannons fired on Fort Sumter.

West Like Lightning will be a Main Selection of History Book Club and a Featured Alternate of Military Book Club and Library of Science. DeFelice is also the author of the New York Times No. 1 bestseller, American Sniper.

Friends of the Morgan Library, Poudre River Public Library, Poudre River Friends of the Library, Old Firehouse Books, Hilton Fort Collins, Liggett Family Endowment, and KUNC-FM support the Evening with an Author Series.

For more information, visit the Morgan Library website, lib.colostate.edu/author-series.