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The California Trail: An Epic with Many Heroes
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The California Trail: An Epic with Many Heroes

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  25 ratings  ·  5 reviews
In 1841 and 1842 small groups of emigrants tried to discover a route to California passable by wagons. Without reliable maps or guides, they pushed ahead, retreated, detoured, split up, and regrouped, reaching their destination only at great cost of property and life. But they had found a trail, or cleared one, and by their mistakes had shown others how to take wagon train ...more
Paperback, 339 pages
Published August 1st 1983 by Bison Books (first published January 1962)
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Mark Buchignani
Organized like a textbook, The California Trail walks the reader through the first ten years of the emigration, starting in 1841. Organized, but not written, like one. This is Stewart at his height, discussing events of his favorite time period, in his most accomplished form – non-fiction. The style is confident, informative, clean, clear, engaging, and leverages his experience as a novelist to bring to life the adventurers of the era, and the leaders and the charlatans.

The tale itself builds to
What a great adventure story. In the beginning (1841) it wasn't even sure that wagons could get to California directly, let alone what the best route was. Over time, alternatives wer explored, some adopted and others abandoned, and trails became roads. The story is told from 1841 to the late 1850s, and the narrative is frequently broken to express epochs in terms of the big picture. The Donners are there, and the Gold Rush, but the real story is the trail itself. Amazingly intriguing.
Rose Gowen
Really good. I am the slowest, most distracted reader in the world, so I tended to forget, between times picking up the book, who the epic heroes were & which bit of trail or cut-off was which-- but still, it really gave a sense of what traveling over land to California in the 1840's was like. Stewart was obviously passionate about his subject, so the writing is very lively.
Interesting book, a bit boring but good for historical purposes.
Toni Collins
Very interesting bit of history. Easy to read.
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George Rippey Stewart was an American toponymist, a novelist, and a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. He is best known for his only science fiction novel Earth Abides (1949), a post-apocalyptic novel, for which he won the first International Fantasy Award in 1951. It was dramatized on radio's Escape and inspired Stephen King's The Stand .

His 1941 novel Storm , featu
More about George R. Stewart...
Earth Abides Ordeal by Hunger: the Story of the Donner Party Names on the Land: A Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States Pickett's Charge Storm

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