Wyoming Book Reviews

Tarnished Gold
By Barbara Townsend
Atlantic City, Wyo.: Fine Nib Publishing, 2017

Tarnished Gold is the third novel from Barbara Townsend, a University of Wyoming graduate with a keen interest in Western history and a talent for bringing interesting characters to life. In Tarnished Gold, Townsend focuses on the South Pass gold mining region.  The mystery/crime/romance novel is set in the 1930s in the fictional town of Placer City, Wyoming. Townsend has done her research into the history of the time period, and she includes an abundance of details that draw the reader into that time and place. The challenges of daily life in a bust town are woven into the narrative so skillfully that the reader may not realize that a history lesson is being delivered along with the story.

Although the book is relatively short, at 226 pages, the author makes good use of every word to build a complex tale with satisfying resolutions to the various complications introduced.  The well-developed, multidimensional characters and the intricate plot twists make this a book to be savored. The reader will be rewarded for paying careful attention to every scene.

Sandra Barstow, Head of Collection Development
University of Wyoming Coe Library


J. C. Penney: The Man, the Store, and American Agriculture
By David Delbert Kruger
Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, [2017]

J. C. Penney had always been just a name on a store front to me. No longer. I enjoyed learning much more about James Cash Penney, the man behind the first transcontinental department store that brought affordable goods to urban and rural America. And don’t forget the catalogs! David Kruger brings us the story of a young business man who opened his store, against all advice, in 1902 Kemmerer, Wyoming. Penney continued opening stores and developed a lifelong love for breeding top quality livestock, especially horses and cattle. Penney even brought farm livestock (literally) to the sales floors of many stores. I recommend David Kruger’s story about a man who was not interested in building personal wealth but instead was dedicated to following the Golden Rule. The author gives us the story of a caring capitalist, a frugal man, a Christian philanthropist, and a dedicated agriculturist. The stores J. C. Penney opened are, unfortunately, disappearing. Through the history Penney created, and Kruger recorded, it will be much longer before they are forgotten.

Nancy Venable, Extension and Volunteer Services Manager
Campbell County Public Library

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