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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
"Wanted. Young, skinny, wiry fellows. Not over 18. Must be expert riders. Willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred." --California newspaper help wanted ad, 1860.
The story of the Pony Express is a whale of a Wild West tale, a peerless example of the place where a blend of truth and myth created heroic legacies. Despite its iconic status in American folklore, the truth about the Pony Express has been largely supplanted by fiction, transforming an unsuccessful and short-lived business venture into a legend.
The fascination with the Pony Express revolves around the men who made it happen. Pony Express riders endured great hardships and braved danger, especially those who rode long distances through hostile territory during the Indian Wars. But the story of the Express is as much the story of the three men who founded it, and the drunkards and ruffians who manned the many stations between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. Mark Twain, Buffalo Bill Cody, Kit Carson, and a host of other vividly drawn characters from the past also populate the chapters of Corbett's absorbing history. Separating fact from fiction, Orphans Preferred sheds new light on the courage and capitalist bluster that characterized this outsized scheme that, while doomed, has helped shape the mythos of the early American West. (Fall 2003 Selection)