A conversation with the NY Times:
When did you first get the idea to write this book?
Probably when I was 6 or 7 and started watching westerns on television and John Wayne movies. I was born in New York, but I thought the Old West was a really cool place. The actual genesis for the book, though, is that I have a project to do — a historical nonfiction narrative history of the United States, in different decades and around different turning points of history.
WEST LIKE LIGHTNING
"While I was on the western swing of the West Like Lightning book tour, a CSPAN crew turned up at an informal chat on the back patio of King's English in Salt Lake City.
"We hadn't expected such a large audience and people were packed out into the street. I kept worrying someone would be run over, but Utah drivers are way more careful than New Yorkers. And it was really a good thing we weren't in New Jersey . . .
"The stars of the night were descendants of some Pony employees who turned up unannounced. What a great honor to meet them. And many thanks to King's English for putting up with me. . . "
Jim has been priviledged to be included in CSPAN's ongoing book talk series several times.
Here are some details and links:
From the National Geographic:
In its day, the Pony Express was like the Twitter or Facebook of the mid-1800s: a means of communication that could move information across the North American continent faster than ever before, though it was powered by horses.
Almost no records survived, though, so the history of the Pony Express is littered with impostors, inaccuracies, and plain bunkum. In West Like Lightning, author Jim DeFelice separates the facts from the fiction.
When National Geographic caught up with him at his home in Warwick, New York, DeFelice explained how the Pony Express came to embody rugged American virtues as much as rodeos or westerns; how Buffalo Bill Cody was its greatest promoter, though he never actually rode for the company; and why, if things had turned out differently, we would be using Pony Express cards, not American Express.
Recent interviews & perspectives
OMAR BRADLEY: GENERAL AT WAR
"My alma mater, Marist College, kindly hosted a talk recorded by CSPAN shortly after the publication of Omar Bradley: General At War. Full disclosure: My wife hates this video; if I ever wear a baseball cap again on television she has promised a divorce."
Type your paragraph here.
CODE NAME: JOHNNY WALKER
"Writing withIraqi interpreter Johnny Walker (Code Name: Johnny Walker) was one thing; traveling with him on our book tour was a whole 'nother experience. One of our favorite moments came in New York City at a great bar, the Half King. Here we are, before the drinking starts."
PBS - Here & Now
The Pony Express only lasted 18 months, but the mail delivery service remains one of the most enduring icons of the American West — its story told in dime novels and in Westerns like the 1990s TV show "The Young Riders."
The Pony Express used horse-and-rider relay teams to speed letters across the West just before the start of the Civil War. The 2,000-mile route went from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California — and the Pony could do it in just 10 days.
"These guys are the rock stars, the athletes of the day, and everybody lionized them" . . .