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Winter of Entrapment: A New Look at the…
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Winter of Entrapment: A New Look at the Donner Party

by Joseph A. King

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This book is best seen as supplemental rather than as definitive. King's stated intent--to salvage the reputation of the Breen family, whom he contends, were unfairly maligned in all previous tellings of the story of the infamous Donner Party--is admirable, and perhaps necessary. However, in his zeal to expose the shortcomings of previous tellings (e.g. revealing the self-interest inherent in the many competing autobiographical accounts) he often falls victim to the same shortcoming--embracing too lovingly his chosen heroes. Previous accounts of the struggles of the Donner Party, most notably George Stewart's Ordeal By Hunger, were indeed tainted by the racism of the time in which they were written. And King rightly criticizes some of Stewart's conclusions (particularly the racism with which his interpretations were inflected). However, King himself is guilty of repeating the same kind of errors: uncritically embracing the testimony of those whose opinions support his heroes (the Breens), while dismissing as racist slander any item or testimony remotely critical of the family. Certainly racism was a part of the unspoken narrative of the Donner Party saga (the Breens were Irish Catholics in a group dominated by Protestants), and this should be taken into account when reading early accounts of the tragedy. However, simply being vilified in earlier accounts and being a member of a minority group does not necessarily make the Breens the near saints that King wants to see them as.
  rubella | Nov 17, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0960850090, Paperback)

During the winter of of 1846-47 over eighty men, women and children of the Donner Party wagon train were trapped in the snows of California's High Sierras. thiry-nine perished on the trail or in the mountain camps. Some survived by eating the dead. This book gives a thorough and readable account and corrects many misconceptions of previous writers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:02 -0400)

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