As part of The Colorado Sun’s literature section — SunLit — we’re featuring staff picks from book stores across the state. >> Click here for more SunLit

This week’s bookstore: Poor Richard’s Books & Gifts, 320 N. Tejon St., Colorado Springs

From the River to the Sea

By John Sedgwick
Avid Reader Press, Simon & Schuster
June 1, 2021

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From the publisher: Bestselling author John Sedgwick recounts, in vivid and thrilling detail, the decade-long fight between General William J. Palmer, the Civil War hero leading the “little family” of his Rio Grande, and William Barstow Strong, the hard-nosed manager of the corporate-minded Santa Fe. What begins as an accidental rivalry when the two lines cross in Colorado soon evolves into an all-out battle as each man tries to outdo the other–claiming exclusive routes through mountains, narrow passes, and the richest silver mines in the world; enlisting private armies to protect their land and lawyers to find loopholes; dispatching spies to gain information; and even using the power of the press and incurring the wrath of the God-like Robber Baron Jay Gould–to emerge victorious.

From Jeffery Payne, Book Department Coordinator:  It is very challenging to not to know General William J. Palmer when one resides in Colorado Springs. Being the founder of the bustling city, General Palmer is held in high esteem and regarded in kind, grandfatherly tones and memories. The Palmer in John Sedgwick’s “From the River to the Sea” isn’t that man, at first. We find that he was a very driven, focused and shrewd railroad businessman whose rival, William Barstow Strong ,was equally, if not more, consumed with winning railway access to the West.

The battle between the two and the years-long conflict took its toll on not only on each man but on towns created and destroyed by the tracks of progress. Interspersed with anecdotes of historical figures and events, and at times reading like a modern day legal thriller, we are guided at a swift pace as we get to know the dueling personalities. A captivating book, especially for those railroad or Western history enthusiasts, that reveals a slightly different take on how the West was won.

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Tracing Time

By Craig Childs
Torrey House
April 19, 2022

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From the publisher: Craig Childs bears witness to rock art of the Colorado Plateau—bighorn sheep pecked behind boulders, tiny spirals in stone, human figures with upraised arms shifting with the desert light, each one a portal to the open mouth of time. With a spirit of generosity, humility, and love of the arid, intricate landscapes of the desert Southwest, Childs sets these ancient communications in context, inviting readers to look and listen deeply.

From Jeffery Payne, Book Department Coordinator:  Written during the height of the pandemic, this book follows Childs as he explores and tries to grasp the meaning of rock art in the Southwest. The overbearing presence of the pandemic and the isolation it involved (well, still involves really…) lends itself to the reverence of the mystery, the discernment of the unknown. The insight he shares by listening, watching and observing, to nature and wise mortals, opens up new perspectives and possibilities of “why” these symbols were set to stone. Easily capturing the stark landscape in lyrical prose, we are there with him as he tries to connect the dots of understanding. Not all questions need or have answers, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. 

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Little Bee

By Chris Cleave
Simon & Schuster
Feb. 16, 2010

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From the publisher: We don’t want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this: It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific. The story starts there, but the book doesn’t. And it’s what happens afterward that is most important. Once you have read it, you’ll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.

From Jeffery Payne, Book Department Coordinator:  Yes, this book has been out for a while, however, the writing and the unforgiving storyline deserve a new wave of readers who will discover a gifted writer. The dialogue is wonderful and candid. Cleave’s ability to have women from different countries talk to one another in a conversation and the reader can hear their dialect, their vibrant singsong voices mingling, left me in awe. The story is raw, complicated and all-too-real. You will smile, gasp and shake your head in dismay. Humans can be so unkind to one another, this we know all too well. When you have finished reading this stunning book, be prepared to take some time to consider what you would do, what you would have done, what you will face head on. 

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