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The Oregon Trail by David Dary
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The Oregon Trail (2004)

by David Dary

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What comes through in this book is the author's fascination with the romance of the settler's wagon train; the core of the narrative being the first-person accounts of people who went through the experience prior to the American Civil War. However, there is a bit of antiquarian mustiness hanging over this history, as it seems like a bit more analysis of the actual people involved would have been in order. Assuming that you weren't a Mormon, or a gold prospector, why was there the drive to travel the Oregon Trail when there was still open public land in Missouri, let alone Kansas? Where these the folks seeking to escape dealing with a society built on slavery? I would also have liked to have learned more about how people built communities when they actually arrived at the end of the road. That is to say, how to you survive the trial of the journey only to face another trial of survival carving a farm out of the wilderness? I would have been glad to have seen the author spend a little less space on the minutiae of the journey and some more time on these questions. ( )
  Shrike58 | Jun 25, 2009 |
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First edition (2004) has full title: The Oregon Trail : an American saga
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375413995, Hardcover)

A major one-volume history of the Oregon Trail from its earliest beginnings to the present, by a prize-winning historian of the American West.

Starting with an overview of Oregon Country in the early 1800s, a vast area then the object of international rivalry among Spain, Britain, Russia, and the United States, David Dary gives us the whole sweeping story of those who came to explore, to exploit, and, finally, to settle there.

Using diaries, journals, company and expedition reports, and newspaper accounts, David Dary takes us inside the experience of the continuing waves of people who traveled the Oregon Trail or took its cutoffs to Utah, Nevada, Montana, Idaho, and California. He introduces us to the fur traders who set up the first “forts” as centers to ply their trade; the missionaries bent on converting the Indians to Christianity; the mountain men and voyageurs who settled down at last in the fertile Willamette Valley; the farmers and their families propelled west by economic bad times in the East; and, of course, the gold-seekers, Pony Express riders, journalists, artists, and entrepreneurs who all added their unique presence to the land they traversed.

We meet well-known figures–John Jacob Astor, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, John Frémont, the Donners, and Red Cloud, among others–as well as dozens of little-known men, women, and children who jotted down what they were seeing and feeling in journals, letters, or perhaps even on a rock or a gravestone.

Throughout, Dary keeps us informed of developments in the East and their influence on events in the West, among them the building of the transcontinental railroad and the efforts of the far western settlements to become U.S. territories and eventually states.

Above all, The Oregon Trail offers a panoramic look at the romance, colorful stories, hardships, and joys of the pioneers who made up this tremendous and historic migration.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:24 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A major one-volume history of the Oregon Trail from its earliest beginnings to the present, by a prize-winning historian of the American West. Starting with an overview of Oregon Country in the early 1800s, a vast area then the object of international rivalry among Spain, Britain, Russia, and the United States, David Dary gives us the whole sweeping story of those who came to explore, to exploit, and, finally, to settle there. Using diaries, journals, company and expedition reports, and newspaper accounts, David Dary takes us inside the experience of the continuing waves of people who traveled the Oregon Trail or took its cutoffs to Utah, Nevada, Montana, Idaho, and California. He introduces us to the fur traders who set up the first "forts" as centers to ply their trade; the missionaries bent on converting the Indians to Christianity; the mountain men and voyageurs who settled down at last in the fertile Willamette Valley; the farmers and their families propelled west by economic bad times in the East; and, of course, the gold-seekers, Pony Express riders, journalists, artists, and entrepreneurs who all added their unique presence to the land they traversed. We meet well-known figures-John Jacob Astor, Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, John Fremont, the Donners, and Red Cloud, among others-as well as dozens of little-known men, women, and children who jotted down what they were seeing and feeling in journals, letters, or perhaps even on a rock or a gravestone. Throughout, Dary keeps us informed of developments in the East and their influence on events in the West, among them the building of the transcontinental railroad and the efforts of the far western settlements to become U.S. territories and eventually states. Above all, The Oregon Trail offers a panoramic look at the romance, colorful stories, hardships, and joys of the pioneers who made up this tremendous and historic migration.… (more)

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