A fun-filled romp with Cowboys, Indians, Carpetbaggers & the Transcontinental Railroad amidst a rowdy, eclectic bunch of characters you won't soon forget!
How Nebraska was Settled
On they came, from Belgium and New Hampshire, from Ireland, Germany and Scandinavia, from the Chicago fire, from the territories: Utah, Wyoming, Kansas, the Dakotas.
All the way they brawled, about Indians, about border lines, about slavery, about who was the bigger imbecile. And then they fought County Seat Wars in most of the 3,000 new counties. A thousand of those remaining ended up in south central Nebraska, scrapping about Harlan County and which still-imagined town should hold the seat of government.
Excerpt: Union Pacific Celebrated
Two trains chugged down the track to the 100th meridian. Red, white, and blue streamers billowed alongside the cars, and festive antlers perched on top of locomotives.
The first train lugged supplies for a party, Western style, including tents, buffalo robes and cases of champagne. The second train brought 140 party goers—the guest list loaded with influential capitalists and Congressional dignitaries.
They whooped it up for three days, dancing around a huge bonfire, peering at a prairie dog town, applauding Pawnee war dancers, and eating fresh-killed antelope for dinner.
Her Conversational Nature
Nicole Overmoyer, a book reviewer for NetGalley, just wrote about my book, THIEVES, RASCALS AND SORE LOSERS. Here’s what she says.
I am not from Nebraska. I have never been to Nebraska. I've never been particularly interested in Nebraska, especially the particular counties of the state. So you might wonder why I requested a copy of Marilyn Coffey's THIEVES, RASCALS AND SORE LOSERS and read it.
It's because I'm a history nerd.
And, as Coffey's detailed history of Harlan County, Nebraska made clear to me, I knew a lot more about the state than I thought I did. This is, no doubt, thanks to a fascination with the Old West. Reading this book made me think of Laura Ingalls Wilder, of Willa Cather, of the novelization I've read of Tiana Rogers, of documentaries about the Wild West and the colorful figures then and there, and even of the Dog Soldiers and Cheyenne on the television show "Longmire."
Coffey proves, with amazing success, that even the most minute details of history can be related to the larger picture that everyone knows just from... existing.
One of the best things about Coffey's book, though, is the conversational nature of it. There are facts and figures, dates and details, minutiae and momentous occasions - all as any history book has - but Coffey tells the story of Harlan County, of her county, in a voice that is relatable to laymen and, rare for books like this, highly entertaining. Imagined conversations between the colorful figures in the county, who might seem dour and dusty in an ordinary book, bring to life a time and a place that must have been daunting and frightening and still a hopeful place to begin life.
I kind of want Coffey to tell me her interpretation of all my history now.
Look Back and Smile
Thieves, Rascals & Sore Losers: The Unsettling History of the Dirty Deals that Helped Settle Nebraska. The title says it all. M. Coffey revisits Nebraska in the 1800's with colorful prose and memorable characters. Her light touch sets humor against the facts and makes for informative, entertaining reading.
It Still Sounds Like Present-day Nebraska
By Deirdre L. Evans
Impressed with the amount of research that had to have gone into this and that Ms. Coffey has so skillfully distilled into clear, well-written stories that bring to life the frontier life in Nebraska, the personal and political struggles for land and power. Present day life here in Omaha seems tame compared to the days of busting sod, cheating and fighting the Indian tribes and vyeing for county seats. When horses broke legs on wild terrain instead of cars busting axles in potholes. This is a clear-eyed, unsentimental account of those days when European settlers brought their dreams to this new land but needed to displace the Indians in order to do it. And then they squabbled over how to run things after they settled in. (Okay, that still sounds like present day Nebraska.) I enjoyed Ms.Coffey's wit and humor describing all these thieves, rascals and sore losers.
By George Lauby "Newspaper Editor"
Marilyn Coffey is a great writer. She tells it like it is -- the real stories, not the manufactured kind. Every so often I like to read history, to taste the real stuff. This book applies not just to Nebraska, but to the entire country -- how it was settled and (somewhat, at least) civilized. A fun, funny, sobering and enlightening book.
The Real Wild West
By K.M. Golden
I certainly enjoyed this look into the real wild west. I will read this book again and again. Marilyn really brings these wild characters to life.
Really liked it
by Dave Milbrandt
I really enjoyed the story of chicanery and trickery that surrounded the founding of Harlan County, Nebraska. The problem with regional history is that it can become boring very quickly to those outside the region. Coffey avoids this pitfall by focusing on the people and their antics. Her informal tone and wealth of resources makes this a great tale. The only challenge in the ebook format is that you can't flip to a map or list of residents as quickly as you would in a book. Such reference materials go a long way in helping to keep all the details straight.
That aside, this was a pretty good book.
by Connie Lane
I have only been to Nebraska once, and I wish that I had read this book before my trip. I could have visualized how the areas started and then related that to the way they have become. It's amazing how many shenanigans were involved in start of many areas in the state, and I suspect that was similar in many of our states. The story and characters were very interesting and I'm glad that I won this book from Goodreads First Reads as it's a book that I wouldn't have thought that I'd be interested in. I thought that it was very good and well-written.
Another well-written and informative book from this gifted writer! Marilyn Coffey will entertain you from the first page until the end!
By John Williamson
Stunning writing, a page turner as per usual for Marilyn's work! This one has got it all.
By Lisa A Christensen
Marilyn Coffey is a remarkable story teller! Thank You,