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Wide Open

Paperback - 2012
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"Based on actual events, this is the epic story of Abilene, Kansas, at a time when the cowboy was king, might made right, and the future seemed as unsettled as the endless prairie. Abilene, 1871. Will Merritt is fiercely protective of the cattle trade that made his father's fortune. Idolizing the cowboys who flood the streets each summer, Will and his friends are drawn to Abilene's exotic Texastown district--a powder keg of saloons and brothels so notorious that the mayor has hired the West's most famous gunman, Wild Bill Hickok, to police its streets. Yet even with Hickok as marshal, Abilene boils with deep divisions. The townsfolk resent the migrant settlers whose new farms are slicing up the rangeland. And no one is more intolerant than Will's best friend, Jasper, who delights in tormenting any farmer he encounters. But Will finds himself torn when he meets the beautiful and beguiling Anna, whose dignity and determination test his deepest beliefs. Then Will's father reveals a stunning secret that challenges Abilene's future, one that makes the Merritts outcasts. And when Wild Bill's tenure as marshal comes to a violent head, Will realizes that everything--his family, his friends, and the only home he's ever known--could be gone in an instant, leaving only an empty wilderness once again"--
Published: New York : Berkley Books, 2012.
Edition: Berkley trade pbk. ed.
ISBN: 9780425247488
Branch Call Number: F BJO
Characteristics: 378 p. ;,21 cm.


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Cdnbookworm Nov 09, 2013

Set in the 1870s in Abilene, Kansas, this story is based on real events of the Midwest. The story begins in May 1871 and our storyteller here is Will Merritt, a boy. His father JT joined the United States 12 New York Cavalry during the Civil War, leaving his wife and son with his brother's family. When he returned for them in 1865 he found that he had a young daughter and that they had not been given the caring shelter he had hoped and the family moved on for other adventures. JT is always looking for what the future might bring and by 1871, he believes Abilene will provide the future he envisions.
Abilene is still a rough town, with one side of the tracks dubbed Texastown, a magnet for trouble and temporary visitors bringing cattle up from Texas to the train line. The mayor, Joe McCoy, hires Wild Bill Hickock to control this wildness. Will has a group of friends: Jasper, Gordon, Billy and Booth who are excited by this side of town and whose families are dependent on this activity for their livelihood. But there is a growing movement towards settlers and farming, providing a stable growth for the area, and Will's dad has decided to put his efforts behind that as he looks to the future once again. One particular family figures here, the Dunhams, with father Caleb and daughter Anna connecting to the Merritt family. Will's mother Eleanor is not a subservient wife, and works with JT towards their family's and community's future. This book shows the cruelty and compassion in this community and the inexorable move towards civilizing this region. Very entertaining.


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