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Wyoming has long inspired writers to explore its natural wonders, rich history and diverse ways of life. In time for the holidays, the Casper Star-Tribune has compiled a selection of this year’s books about Wyoming and the West, many written by authors with a connection to the Cowboy State.

This selection spans a variety of topics in non-fiction — from the dangers airmail pilots faced on the dangerous flights through Wyoming to the stories of wildlife like sage grouse, wild horses and wolves. Authors address issues of conservation, industry and development and explore new scientific discoveries in nature. Some selections feature works by photographers drawn to Wyoming’s spectacular sights. Others are works of fiction that explore the rugged way of life here in the rural West.


“Wyoming Airmail Pioneers”

Authors: Starley Talbott and Michael E. Kassel

Aviation legends of the United States Transcontinental Air Mail Service pilots risked their lives to carry mail along the most dangerous route: through Wyoming. Wyoming freelance author Starley Talbott has written books and columns for more than 40 years. Michael E. Kassel is an adjunct professor of history at Laramie County Community College.

“Behind the Carbon Curtain: The Energy Industry, Political Censorship, and Free Speech”

Author: Jeffrey A. Lockwood

This book examines the Wyoming energy industry and “the conflict between private wealth and free speech.” Author Jeffrey A. Lockwood teaches natural sciences and humanities at University of Wyoming Department of Philosophy.

“J.C. Penney: The Man, the Store, and American Agriculture”

Author: David Kruger

James Cash Penney opened his first store in 1902 in Kemmerer and retained Wyoming ties through his life as a business icon, spending his last day at his J.C. Penney store in Casper, according to a University of Wyoming press release about the book. Author David Kruger is the agricultural research librarian at University of Wyoming.

“Wonderlandscape: Yellowstone National Park and the Evolution of an American Cultural Icon John Clayton”

Author: John Clayton

This book tells the story of Yellowstone National Park’s significance in American culture through stories of iconic figures, including artists, naturalists, entrepreneurs and pop-culture icons. Author John Clayton writes for The Montana Quarterly and other publications. A regular speaker at the Montana Book Festival, Clayton lives in Montana on the outskirts of Yellowstone, and enjoys exploring the park in all seasons.

“On the Trail of the Mountain Shoshone Sheep Eaters”

Author: Tory Taylor

Tory Taylor explores the history of the Mountain Shoshone, the native people who lived in Wyoming’s Wind River and Absaroka mountains before the arrival of Europeans. The book encompasses the author’s own archaeological adventures and historical documents.

Land and nature

“American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West”

Author: Nate Blakeslee

Yellowstone alpha female wolf, O-Six, became a social media star with worldwide fame. In his book, Nate Blakeslee examines the politics of the West’s wolves as conservationists clash with others over the species’ future.

A wolf-watching class in Yellowstone sparked author Nate Blakeslee’s fascination with wolves. He writes for Texas Monthly.

“Wild Horse Country: The History, Myth, and Future Of The Mustang”

Author: David Philipps

New York Times reporter David Philipps explores how wild horses came to capture imagination and become central to American identity amid controversy.

Philipps traveled remote parts of the West, where tens of thousands of wild horses are held in captivity by the federal government and free horses are “caught between the clashing ideals of ranchers, animal rights activists, scientists, and government officials.”

“Yellowstone Migrations”

Author: Photographs by Joe Riis, contributions by Arthur Middleton, Emilene Ostlind, Gretel Ehrlich and Thomas Lovejoy

A wildlife photojournalist follows migrations through the Yellowstone region, home to last “great populations of migrating elk, pronghorn antelope and mule deer.”

This book explores recent scientific discoveries about the magnitude of wildlife migration in the West and management to preserve these corridors. Contributors include Arthur Middleton, Emilene Ostlind, Gretel Ehrlich and Thomas Lovejoy.

“Sage Grouse: Icon of the West”

Author: Photographs by Noppadol Paothong, text by Kathy Love

This book pairs photographs by award-winning nature photographer Noppadol Paothong with information by natural history writer Kathy Love. “This book tells the story of the sage-grouse, its habitat in the vast Sagebrush Sea of the Intermountain West, and the threats faced by both.”

“Saving Wyoming’s Hoback: The Grassroots Movement that Stopped Natural Gas”

Authors: Florence Rose Shepard and Susan Marsh

This Winner of the Wallace Stegner Prize in Environmental Humanities tells the story of an effort in 2012 to prevent industrialization of the Hoback and Noble Basins in northwestern Wyoming.

“While some disagreed about specifics, their work as individuals and as coalitions is an inspiring example of how determined citizens can make a difference,” according to the blurb on the publisher’s website.

Florence Rose Shepard is a professor emerita at University of Utah, and co-author Susan Marsh is an award-winning writer in Jackson, Wyoming.

“A Field Guide to the Casper Mountain Area”

Authors: Terrence Logue, Maria Katherman, Peggy Knittel, Beecher Ed Strube and Dana Van Burgh

Original contributors and authors released a new second edition of this local favorite that covers geology, plants, animals and local history with maps, mileage markers for driving and fold-out diagrams. Updates from the local teachers and experts include more recent scientific discoveries along with color photos, maps and other images.

“Hiking Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains: A Guide to the Area’s Greatest Hiking Adventures”

Author: Ken Keffer

This guide takes new to veteran hikers through dozens of trails in Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains, whether they seek a day hike or to backpack for days through the wilderness.

Wyoming native and outdoor enthusiast Ken Keffer has been exploring the Big Horn Mountains since childhood. The wildlife biologist, environmental educator and freelance writer live s in Milwaukee, but he’s never missed an annual trek to the Bighorns.


“Quiet Until the Thaw: A Novel”

Author: Alexandra Fuller

The debut novel by bestselling author Alexandra Fuller of Wyoming tells a story of two cousins who choose different paths as escalating anger toward past and present injustices upon the Lakota people by the federal government leads to tribal divisions. One chooses peace, the other violence in this complex tale spanning generations and geography.

“Along the Sylvan Trail”

Author: Julianne Couch

This story features characters confronting futures “that aren’t clearly dictated by conventional planning” in a small Iowa town. “These characters populate a world focused on the terrain from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River, sometimes viewed as ‘flyover country’ but in this book, shown to be diverse, quirky, and hopeful,” according to the blurb on the publisher’s website.

Julianne Couch has taught at University of Wyoming and freelances for High Country News, Daily Yonder, Sustainable City Network and other publications. She lives in Bellevue, Iowa.

“The Western Star: A Longmire Mystery” and “An Obvious Fact: A Longmire Mystery”

Author: Craig Johnson

New York Times Bestselling author Craig Johnson of Ucross released two Longmore series novels this year.

The 12th Longmire novel, “An Obvious Fact,” takes Walt to investigate a hit-and-run accident near Devils Tower involving a motorcyclist. But they find more to investigate at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

The 13th Longmire series novel, “The Western Star,” confronts the sheriff with an old photograph from a Wyoming Sheriff’s Association junket on the Western Star train and an upcoming parole hearing, which “hurtles the sheriff into a head-on collision of past and present, placing him and everyone he cares about squarely on the tracks of runaway revenge.”

“Vicious Circle: A Joe Pickett Novel” and “Paradise Valley: A Novel”

Author: C.J. Box

#1 New York Times–bestselling author C. J. Box of Wyoming released his latest Joe Pickett novel and his Highway quartet conclusion.

In “Vicious Circle,” “the past comes back to haunt the game warden Joe Pickett and his family with devastating effect.”

In “Paradise Valley,” investigator Cassie Dewell is a lone wolf on her pursuit of the serial killer known as Lizard King as she searches for Kyle, a troubled kid she’s taken under wing. His disappearance “may have a more sinister meaning than anyone realizes.”

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Western inspiration

“Blood, Water, Wind, and Stone: An Anthology of Wyoming Writers”

The poems, short stories and essays in this anthology by a group of Wyoming writers speak of “what it is like to live at the intersection between human lives and needs, and the environment of the high plains and the mountains—to mingle our ephemeral blood with the shaping forces of water, wind, and stone.”

“Women of the West” collection

Edited by Caleb Seeling, Sapphire Heien and Sheena Feiler

This collection of poems, short stories, and creative nonfiction from 25 authors explores perspectives of Western women, “diverse in race, religion, and sexual orientation,” but “bonded through the shared experiences and approaches to life that identify them as distinctly Western.”

Western Press Books’ 2017 volume in the Manifest West series, edited by Caleb Seeling, Sapphire Heien and Sheena Feiler, presents stories of “natives and Natives, of immigrants from around the world, spanning from eastern states of America to Vietnam in the East. From historical figures toting guns and whips to those who must overcome today’s manifestations of violence against women, these ladies, and so many more, are the Women of the West.”

“Kids’ Ultimate Animal Adventure Book: 745 Quirky Facts and Hands-On Activities for Year-Round Fun”

Author: Ken Keffer, Stacy Tornio

This book teaches kids to observe and learn about the animals as they explore behavior, habitat, facts, and more. It’s packed with activities from finding caterpillars to inspecting lizards to

Wyoming native co-author Ken Keffer has worked around the world as naturalist and environmental educator. Stacy Tornio is the former editor of Birds & Blooms magazine, and teaches gardening as a master gardener in Milwaukee.

Follow reporter Elysia Conner on Twitter @erconner


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