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Capturing the adventure and romance of the West

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By Special to the Monitor

Seven people — three women, four men; five Europeans, two Americans — all have the same goal: to make a new life for themselves in an emerging nation. How their lives intersect and collide is the subject of Reid Rosenthal’s best-selling debut novel, “Threads West: An American Saga.” Rosenthal will sign his book, which re-creates and celebrates the Rocky Mountain West of the mid 1850s, at 6 p.m. Jan. 28 at Otowi Station.
In a recent interview, Rosenthal discussed “Threads West.” The interview can be read at www.margaretcoel.com/novels-spiders-web.php.
As a native of Wyoming, Rosenthal naturally finds the American West intriguing. “The West,” he said, “may best typify the universal connection of romance, life, land and history. The American West fascinates people from around the world. It conjures images of tough independent personalities, wide-open spaces, powerful energies and kaleidoscopic colors. More than any other geographic location of the country — with the exception of revolutionary New England — the West has played the key role in shaping values, which are the core characteristics of the American spirit.”
Rosenthal said since around 1855, the setting for the first book in the ‘Threads West’ series, the West has been the driver of American fundamentals and is the source of most American necessities — from food to energy to water.
The first volume of the series, “Threads West, an American Saga,” follows the lives of five emigrants from Europe as they come to America. Rosenthal said that one of the most common misconceptions about the immigrants is that there were throngs of willing and eager new citizens who enthusiastically sought America to find their fortune, happiness and freedom.
“That was true enough for many,” he said. “But there were a surprising number of immigrants who were fleeing the law, had sordid motives or purposes, or who were compelled to come to America for various reasons though if given real choice, they would’ve stayed in Europe, Asia, or Africa.”
Thrusting his characters into the United States of 1855 created volatility in their lives, Rosenthal said.
“1855 may be one of the single most difficult years in the history of this country and the West,” he said. “The great westward migration was in its infancy. Proslavery forces won the election in the Kansas Territory. The Indian treaties of the previous years had all been broken by one or the other party within the previous two years, and Native Americans had rightfully lost trust in the promises of the white man. And it was just three before the discovery of gold in Colorado, the real precipitator of the tidal wave of westward migration that began in 1858.”
The book should appeal to advanced middle readers to adults, Rosenthal said.
“I would hope the younger generation of readers, and there seem to be many —particularly with most of the characters in this first book being between the ages of 18 and 21 — get a sense of the rugged independent values of the Old West, are put back in touch with American history via a story and interpolate important messages about life, love and determination. I believe it will assist many to better understand the key role land plays in all aspects of our lives and motivations. I hope it instills in all readers a wish to return modern-day life to those principles, which made this country great to begin with. Of course, it’s my wish that all enjoy simply reading what I hope they feel, after that last page is turned, is a good book.”
Rosenthal is working on the second book of the Threads West series, “Maps of Fate,” and is looking forward to a release of the book in late March 2011.
The third novel in the series, “North to Wyoming,” is scheduled for Fall 2011. He lives on a ranch outside Douglas, Wyo.