They advertised for skinny, wiry youngsters who were expert riders, ""...willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred."" Although, as the author points out, the Pony Express lasted for only eighteen months, it galloped straight into the folklore of the American West. In addition to the details of organizing a top-speed relay system for news to and from California, which is fascinating in itself, there is a lot of extra information here. There is a good discussion of similar networks in ancient times, a description of the political football the Pony Express became, and finances in the gold rich/capital poor territories. Of course, what stimulates at every point where the interest might flag are the stories of the young riders who, like Bill Cody, swore an oath not to curse, drink or fight before they were allowed to put on the distinctive red blouse and blue trousers of the Pony Express rider.