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Independent Press Award 

2024 winner

Raphael Pumpelly's Arizona: The Frontier Adventures of a Young Mining Engineer

C. Gilbert Storms

Raphael Pumpelly came to the mountains south of Tucson, Arizona, in 1860 as a young mining engineer looking for adventure. He was just twenty-three years old and a recent graduate of the prestigious Royal Mining Academy in Germany.

During his time in the Southwest, Pumpelly learned how to mine silver in Arizona and how to survive in the lawless environment of the borderlands. He met miners, ranchers, soldiers, bandits, Mexican revolutionaries, and raiding Apaches in a territory where there was no law enforcement and no effective military force to oppose the attacks of hostile Indians. After he left Arizona, he became an internationally renowned geologist, a consultant to foreign governments on geology and mining, a pioneering researcher in geoarchaeology, and a professor of geology and mining at Harvard. But it all began in Arizona.

An adventurer and a talented storyteller, Raphael Pumpelly's accounts stand alongside the best American pioneer writers. With lively prose and vivid detail depicting the people and events shaping the Grand Canyon State, his writings have been an invaluable resource for historians of Arizona in the chaotic years between the Gadsden Purchase in 1854 and the start of the Civil War. Raphael Pumpelly’s Arizona explores how life used to be on the western range and is a must-read for anyone interested in one of the last places to be modernized in America -- Arizona.

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Raphael Pumpelly's Arizona: The Frontier Adventures of a Young Mining Engineer
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