Thursday, November 18, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: "Men to Match My Mountains"

Men to Match My Mountains
By Irving Stone
Copyright 1956
Castle Books Publishing
(republish arranged by Doubleday Publishing)
Biographical Novel

Well I have to say that when my 86-year-old grandfather-in-law (husband's grandfather) recommended this book to me, I was a little hesitant. As a matter of fact (and I hate to admit this), I kind of put off reading it for awhile. After all, I don't usually like biographies that much. And really, I'm not much of a history buff either. But, I thought, I may as well learn something about this part of the country that I call home. So finally after reading my latest frou-frou fiction, I picked it up and started reading. And then I couldn't stop.

Men to Match My Mountains was an absolutely fascinating summary of the settling of "the Far West", as it is often known. California, Nevada, Utah and of course, Colorado, are all included in this amazing story of amazing people who did absolutely amazing things to make their way across the mountains, toward the coast and toward the gold. I am not a person who could sit down and read book after book after book about the 49ers, the Donner Party, the Mormons, the railroad barons, the mountain men, the roughnecks and the few women who braved the west. But having it summarized the way that it is in this book was just perfect for someone who has a slight interest in the topic, enjoys some awesome anecdotes, and wants to feel just a little bit smarter after a few good days reading.

I will admit the book was long (nearly 450 pages) and it took me awhile to finish. But it was jam-packed with unbelievable stories taken from the journal pages of those who lived it, as well as from 150-year-old newspapers, books, pamphlets and other sources.

Much of this story was incredibly interesting to me on a personal level. There was a great deal of information about the settling of my beloved state of Colorado, including the initial silver finds, the Cripple Creek mines (very near to my home!), streams, rivers and mountains that I am very familiar with, as well as the settling of Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver. There was also a vast amount of information detailing the initial settling of Utah by the Mormons, some of which were ancestors of mine.

There were so many great stories in this book that there is just no way that I could at all do it justice by picking just one or two to share. Instead, I just want to strongly recommend that you do yourself a favor, check this book out of your local library and learn a little something about how this country used to work. And how the people of this country used to work for every little thing they had. Strong, strong recommendation for this one, even for those of you who don't think you're that into history. Thanks for recommending it to me, Edwin!

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