An acclaimed historian’s “compellingly told” year-by-year account of the pioneering efforts to conquer the American West in the mid-nineteenth century (The Guardian).
In all the sagas of human migration, few can top the drama of the journey by Midwestern farmers to Oregon and California from 1840 to 1849—between the era of the fur trappers and the beginning of the gold rush. Even with mountain men as guides, these pioneers literally plunged into the unknown, braving all manner of danger, including hunger, thirst, disease, and drowning.
Employing numerous illustrations and extensive primary sources, including original diaries and memoirs, McLynn underscores the incredible heroism and dangerous folly on the overland trails. His authoritative narrative investigates the events leading up to the opening of the trails, the wagons and animals used, the roles of women, relations with Native Americans, and much else.
The climax arrives in McLynn’s expertly re-created tale of the dreadful Donner party, and he closes with Brigham Young and the Mormons beginning communities of their own. Full of high drama, tragedy, and triumph, “rarely has a book so wonderfully brought to life the riveting tales of Americans’ trek to the Pacific” (Publishers Weekly).