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Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas…
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Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire:… (edition 2014)

by Peter Stark (Author)

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5802131,076 (4.02)18
Documents the 1810 to 1813 expedition, financed by millionaire John Jacob Astor and encouraged by Thomas Jefferson, to establish Fort Astoria, a trading post on the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest.
Member:LukasDay
Title:Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival
Authors:Peter Stark (Author)
Info:Ecco (2014), Edition: 1st, 400 pages
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Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival by Peter Stark

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Personally, I had a fairly large knowledge gap between what happened in the time between Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase/Lewis & Clark Expedition, and the subsequent pre-settlement exploration of what is now the American West. I also knew little of John Jacob Astor, and how he became one of America's wealthiest merchants. Peter Stark did a lot to fill my knowledge gap with his book "Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire".

Stark tells the story of how Jefferson's continued interest in exploring the lands west of the Mississippi merged with John Jacob Astor's interest in establishing a fur trade in the Pacific Northwest. Astor hoped to develop a triangular trade route, sending furs from the Pacific Northwest to China, porcelain and silks from China to Europe, and European goods back to the U.S., reaping enormous profits at each point. He sought and received assistance from President Jefferson to support this project, with Jefferson hoping to see a nascent democracy established in the settlement of the western lands.

For Astor to establish his fur trading post, he organized two expeditions to find their way to and establish a post at a northwest passage. One group sailed from the East Coast around Cape Hope, and the other group travelled overland. Neither group found easy going, the (mis)adventures of both groups made for an intriguing story.

I've always assumed that anyone who has ever hiked, driven, or flown over the Rocky Mountains probably has wondered how anyone managed to first traverse the deserts, rivers and mountains and make it to the Pacific. Stark's book makes it only too clear how difficult such a journey was at that time. Shipwrecks, attacks by Native American tribes, impenetrable barriers, sickness, lack of food and water, snow and ice were just a sample of the problems the explorers had to face and overcome. And as Stark describes, not all members of the expedition managed to overcome these obstacles. It all made for a most interesting story, and Start did an admirable job of telling this story of exploration, overcoming hardship, success and failure.


( )
  rsutto22 | Jul 15, 2021 |
Great book, those early arrivals to the Pacific Northwest were made of stout stuff. ( )
  L11fields | May 1, 2021 |
What amazing heroes these folks were to take on the challenge of setting up the fur trade routes in the western USA! It seems that every way they turned there was another crisis, calamity or weather situation to deal with. I really enjoyed reading this book as I live in Central Oregon and I know the terrain to Astoria and surrounds. The fact that many survived is testament to personal courage, inner strength and stubbornness. ( )
  Katyefk | Jan 2, 2021 |
I have read a lot of historical nonfiction. This is among the best. The author is an excellent story teller. I couldn't put the book down. ( )
  ArtRodrigues | Nov 15, 2020 |
Very enjoyable read about the settlement of the US west coast; I appreciated how the author connected historical significance of the time with present day geography and facts. ( )
  RoxieT | Nov 9, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Stark moves skillfully back and forth from one segment of the splintered expedition to another. He also raises a tantalizing question about the enterprise as a whole. Astor went on to make his fortune in other ways, but what if he’d realized his Pacific Coast dream? Jefferson and other statesmen had given little thought as to how Astoria, as the short-lived outpost was called, would be assimilated into the United States — or whether it would be assimilated at all.
 

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Documents the 1810 to 1813 expedition, financed by millionaire John Jacob Astor and encouraged by Thomas Jefferson, to establish Fort Astoria, a trading post on the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest.

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