Kings of Colorado

Will Lavender writes about David Hilton’s novel of Kings of Colorado:  “For years I have searched for an heir to Golding’s Lord of the Flies, and this is it.  But in Kings of Colorado, Hilton allows you to look into these characters and see that redemption is possible.  The story of all things wild–wild horses, wild boys, and the wild landscape that looms above it all–this book is as heartbreaking and as hopeful as anything you will read this year.  A fine novel.”

From the book:

In 1963, there were still vast acres of open wilderness in the state of Colorado, especially outside the Grand Junction area, where herds of mustangs were often rounded up and trucked to various ranches across the region.  And at Swope Reformatory, the horses were met and worked daily by a select group of inmates who were part of a special program to break them.  They called themselves breakers.

After the horses were broken in and gentled, they were sold to various ranchers and landowners in Colorado, California, Arizona, and New Mexico.  Sometimes farther away.  And this was how the ranch made its cut.  Call it what you want, but it was an institution more than anything, profiting from the use of free labor to generate revenue.

Horses came and went, delinquent boys came and went.  The boys broke the horses, Swope Reformatory broke the boys.

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