Alexander stood six feet and more in the archway, glowing with strength and cordiality and rugged good looks. There were other bridge-builders in the world, certainly -- but it was always Alexander's picture that the Sunday Supplement men wanted, because he looked as a tamer of rivers ought to look. Under his tumbled sandy hair his head seemed as hard and powerful as a catapult, and his shoulders looked strong enough in themselves to support a span of any one of his ten great bridges that cut the air above as many rivers.
At the pinnacle of his career, Bartley Alexander stands proudly in the public eye. Yet for those who know him well, a certain mystery lingers about him -- some strange aspect of his past well hidden from view . . . something, perhaps, that might even shake the mightiest of engineering triumphs.
Willa Cather, a journalist, editor and traveler born in 1876, established her place in the literary world with the publication in 1912 of Alexander's Bridge, her first novel. Her later masterpieces included My Antonia and Death Comes for the Archbishop.