for Mesabi Pioneers

Aaron Brown, Hibbing Daily Tribune and

…a refreshingly enjoyable read… Hill and Smith kindle complicated emotions, important questions and a driving curiosity about Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range.

The novel’s opening chapters give us a remarkable point of view, a vision of the Iron Range before it was anything like our modern understanding of the place. The size of the forest, the difficulty of travel, the majesty of the Missabe hills before they were opened up and moved like chess pieces: we see all of this in fresh prose.

[W]here “Mesabi Pioneers” thrills (at least for this student of Range history) is in its dramatic imagination of what people faced in the wilds of 1890s Mountain Iron, and how the mighty wheels of industrial commerce slowly crushed the spirits of the ambitious Merritt Brothers. Fiction, yes. But the spirit rings true. Knowing how it turns out in real life only enhances the reading of this book.

Charlotte Kirsch, Historical Novel Society

Hill and Smith pepper their story with some very good character development (this book is as much a story of Arthur Maki’s personal growth as it is anything else), plenty of sarcastic humor, and a good deal of research into a period never before explored in historical fiction. In their handling, the enterprising and occasionally cutthroat, bygone world of iron mining comes vividly alive. A strong debut instalment.

Scott Hall, KAXE, Northern Community Radio

A wonderful book. I’d recommend it to anyone.

James Dilisio, author Maryland Geography

In Mesabi Pioneers, Jeffrey Smith has skillfully crafted a wonderful story that respects the historical facts while bringing the experience of these pioneers to life. The story of the Finns and Scandinavians who worked the iron ore mines and were joined by others from Cornwall, Wales, Ireland, Germany, Italy, and elsewhere is effectively told. This book is a steeped in the social history and physical geography of this region in Minnesota that played such a significant role in the economic rise of the United States. I understand that this is the first volume in a planned trilogy. I am already looking forward to the next volume. In a few words, this is good creative writing with an enjoyable style.

Kathryn Leigh Scott, actress and author, Down and Out in Beverly Heels

What a fascinating story, with finely drawn characters and compelling subject matter. The authors take us inside the hearts and souls of newly arrived immigrant pioneers, full of hope and promise, who accomplished extraordinary feats under dire circumstances; and the Native Americans who watched their homeland undergo such dramatic and irrevocable change. I learned such a lot about the history of the Iron Range territory in my native state. I highly recommend it.