Good-bye 2018

See y'all n the other side.

The telegraph, railroad . . .

. . . and the Pony Express

It’s often thought that railroad and the telegraph killed the Pony Express. But in fact, both were not only around when the Pony started, the service made use of both. This is a map of the train line that brought mail from the East – including and especially New York City – to St. Joseph, the Pony’s eastern-most base.

Kirkus Reviews . . .

. . .  had some nice things to say about West Like Lightning:

Of thundering hooves and priority mail: a lively history of the short-lived but much-evoked Pony Express. As novelist and pop historian DeFelice (The Helios Conspiracy, 2012, etc.) acknowledges throughout, there's not much that we know with absolute certainty about some of the players and events in the Pony Express effort, a private enterprise for which records are not always available. The service was fast—a letter could cross half the continent in 10 days thanks to the relay system of riders and fast horses—but "the idea of speed was really the important thing" in a time when telegraph lines were going up and plans for a transcontinental railroad were being conjured. The key players were an unlikely mix of slaveholders, frontiersmen, freighters, and entrepreneurs who saw opportunity in providing a communications infrastructure to a military stretched out across a vast, sparsely settled region. But there's much more to the Pony Express than just business history, for it threads into a landscape populated by young legends-to-be like Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok, whose stories DeFelice happily weaves into the narrative: Courage and stamina were desiderata, of course, but as he notes, "if gunplay figured into it, so much the better, but you didn't have to be literally wild to be celebrated. Being tenacious and undaunted in the face of myriad hardships would do." There's plenty in the memories of supposed riders like Cody to suggest truth but not much hard evidence to say that they were actually onboard, which lends a nice hazy touch to the whole legend. Soon enough—in just a couple of years—the likes of Western Union, founded by an associate of Samuel Morse, "whose greatest genius was his ability to acquire and merge the various small companies operating local lines," would put an end to the Pony Express, but for all that, it lives on in memory. Good stuff for Western history buffs, to say nothing of fans of the Post Office.”

The Pony by plane . . . 

JetBlue is now the official airline of the Pony Express!

(West Like Lightning has been selected for the airline’s June book program – read it while you’re flying!)

History Book Club . . .

. . . picks up West Like Lightning

Proud to announce that West Like Lightning will be a main selection in May at the History Book Club

And it's on Facebook . . .

My Pony book, West Like Lightning, now has its own Facebook page:

We now have a website:

Comments? Send them to author (at)

Reality copies art . . .

. . . or something like that. Consider:

The plot of Helios Conspiracy and this from today's NYT:

The Trump administration accused Russia on Thursday of engineering a series of cyberattacks that targeted American and European nuclear power plants and water and electric systems, and could have sabotaged or shut power plants off at will.


Maybe Trump will call on Andy Fisher to help him out.

Thanks for the plug

West Like Lightning is highlighted at the almost-very end.

Thanks! Really excited about this book.
The trail

One piece of the puzzle:

It's the summer of 2014. A hacker from the Dutch intelligence agency AIVD has penetrated the computer network of a university building next to the Red Square in Moscow, oblivious to the implications. One year later, from the AIVD headquarters in Zoetermeer, he and his colleagues witness Russian hackers launching an attack on the Democratic Party in the United States. The AIVD hackers had not infiltrated just any building; they were in the computer network of the infamous Russian hacker group Cozy Bear. And unbeknownst to the Russians, they could see everything.


Couldn't have done this better in a novel.
Lemons are a mobster's best friend

New theory on how the mafia started: it was all in the lemons.

Weaponized Facebook

We still don’t know the exact degree of collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. But the debate over collusion, while important, risks missing what should be an obvious point: Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other platforms were manipulated by the Russians to shift outcomes in Brexit and the U.S. presidential election, and unless major changes are made, they will be manipulated again. Next time, there is no telling who the manipulators will be.

How to fix it.

Censorship . . .

. . . . is still censorship, even if they want your book to replace the one (in this case, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451) they ban.

“Filth,” that parent called Bradbury’s work, as she pressed for it to be removed from an eighth grade reading list. The concerned mom leading the banning effort didn’t see its prophetic relevance. All she saw was a vulgarity, the word “bastard,” which she felt was inappropriate for her 13-year-old daughter. “I’m just trying to keep my little girl a little girl,” she said.
This kind of book-banning effort isn’t unusual, but this one was a gut punch. Why? Because the parent organizing the banning effort suggested that Bradbury’s work should be replaced with something more acceptable to her.
Among her suggestions for more “suitable” material: my own dystopian novel, When the English Fall.
I cannot imagine receiving a more troubling and heartbreaking endorsement.


Note that the author is himself a pastor.
Portrait of the artist . . .

. . . as an old man:

Like most struggling artists, Harry Bertschmann is hoping to be discovered. Unlike them, he already has a pedigree: he has shown his work alongside Mark Rothko, Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell while they were still alive and in their prime. In 1958, a large Bertschmann canvas was featured in the Carnegie International exhibition in Pittsburgh, a rarefied achievement for any artist, let alone one in his mid-20s. Since then, Mr. Bertschmann has painted or drawn nearly every day of his adult life, producing a body of work that has been praised by some of the art world’s foremost tastemakers. Yet he has remained virtually unknown.

There are many hundreds of men like Mr. Bertschmann; hopefully he and his wife will find some financial success soon.


People talk about a decline in American military power and look for exotic answers. The obvious one is staring them in the face:

You get what you pay for.

Drowning government in a bathtub has consequences.