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The Year of Decision 1846
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The Year of Decision 1846 (Trilogy of the West #2)

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  160 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Year of Decision 1846 tells many fascinating stories of the U.S. explorers who began the western march from the Mississippi to the Pacific, from Canada to the annexation of Texas, California, and the southwest lands from Mexico. It is the penultimate book of a trilogy which includes Across the Wide Missouri (for which DeVoto won both the Pulitzer and Bancroft prizes) and T ...more
Paperback, 576 pages
Published October 5th 2000 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1943)
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Lloyd Hughes
This book and its predecessors 'The Course of Empire' and 'Across the Wide Missouri' are must reads for anybody interested in pre-Civil War American History. The author, Bernard DeVoto, presents profound and astute analysis grounded in in-depth research and encyclopedic knowledge of subject, free from political correctness, in a very readable, straight-forward, and no-nonsense manner. You might agree or disagree with his conclusions but you won't question his integrity.
James K. Polk may just be my favorite president. And we did NOT steal it. We won it in a fair fight. Get over it, losers!
Sludgy. Great content, fusty prose that kept mucking it up. Great for its time, no doubt, but now a museum piece...
Glen Pekin
This guy could write history. You might think it is out dated but put him on you history shelf.
Craig Knott
It's an amazingly detailed account of one of the most pivotal year in the American History. The book is thick 500 pg read set up in chapters that cover every major player from J.k. Polk to John C. Freemont, to the Donner Party, to the invasion of Mexico by Zach Taylor and W. Scott to Brigham Young and the Saints exodus. The Pulitzer Prize winning author, Bernard Devoto, was actually raised in Ogden in the early 20th century and moved on to be a profeesor at Harvard and one of the Ages most respe ...more
What a fantastic history. The somewhat insane people who sustained a roughly 50% mortality - walking, pushing, dragging all they have across 3000+ mostly hostile miles to land in a totally unknown geography; and at that point not part of a country they knew.
California's written history is about 2 minutes long. My father knew his great grandmother well - distinct and complex memories; she arrived with Sam Brannan in San Francisco in 1846 on the ship Brooklyn whose contents doubled the Euro popula
Bob H
Bernard de Voto's prose was brilliant, and not always complementary to his American characters. Note this, which still rings true:
"... nor the creation in newsprint of a great public hero, is an invention of our age, which has not seen any betterment of the technique that erected [John C.] Fremont into a martyr ... That creation was almost enough to wreck the republic. It was enough to convince innumerable people born since the advertising stopped and its proprietors died ... that incompetence i
I found this book in a used book store and it jumped off the shelf at me. Mine is the original published in 1942, a hardback with the dustcover and I just loved it! It is a long read at 500+ pages, but it was so much of so many different histories that I have learned put together. It is about "some people who went west in 1846". It was the year the War with Mexico was started (during which my great-great grandfather spent a year in the Army), tells of the Donner party (I have read a lot about th ...more
Richard Diamond
It might have been a great book 70 years ago, but now it's not. Too opinionated for a good history. Leaves out an important part of the Mormon March into California and too biased with respect to individuals he likes and doesn't like. Not sorry I read it. I needed a good laugh and an understanding of how history was written 70 years ago.
Jan C
I read this in college. Borrowed my parents' copy from 1943 or some such year.

He was so thorough. Did anything happen in 1846 that he didn't cover? Probably not.

Possibly a little too thorough when it came to the details of the Donner Party. That part was just revolting. To find out real details of what starvation can drive people to. And how stupidity can really put you in danger.

But when, I think it was John Reade, was walking off, determined to get to civilization or freeze in the process, I
An older style of writing, to be sure... Written during WWII ... But well worth the effort. Get past the writing style and get to the meat of this ... It is a wealth of information, and a fascinating story that begins to make the reasons for the Civil war comprehensible ...
Great review of the migration of 1846 - Covers everything from Childe Harold's imaginary campaigns to the Donner Party's cannibalistic end (which is a gruesome read) DeVoto's humor reminds me a lot of Bukowski. He's kind of a non-drunk Bukowski writing history. Great stuff.
Tim Basuino
If you're the type of person who likes short stories about heroes of the Old West, this book is not for you. Very detailed discussions about the Donner Party, the Mexican War, and the acts that led to Sowing The Seeds of The Civil War.
Another good history of the far west, chronicling a year that opened it to US citizens following the Mexican War.
John Nelson
Volume One of Bernard Devoto's three-volume history of America's westward expansion and Manifest Destiny.
James Valentine
a delightful read of the many facts setting the stage for the coming of the great American Civil War.
this is one great is a history book that reads like a great novel....what a year 1846
The book that gave me the basis for my thesis. I owe it all to this little blue book.
David Gross
Read this one a long time ago and just started to read it again. Fascinating stuff.
Very informative and entertaining as well.
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Bernard Augustine DeVoto was an American historian and author who specialized in the history of the American West.
More about Bernard DeVoto...

Other Books in the Series

Trilogy of the West (3 books)
  • Across the Wide Missouri
  • The Course of Empire
Across the Wide Missouri The Course of Empire The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto Mark Twain's America The Western Paradox: A Conservation Reader

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“And by the end of March one of them had already begun his journey. Twenty-two years old, an A.B. and LL.B. of Harvard, Francis Parkman was back from a winter trip to scenes in Pennsylvania and Ohio that would figure in his book and now he started with his cousin, Quincy Adams Shaw, for St. Louis. He was prepared to find it quite as alien to Beacon Hill as the Dakota lands beyond it, whither he was going. He was already an author (a poet and romancer), had already designed the great edifice his books were to build, and already suffered from the mysterious, composite illness that was to make his life a long torture. He hoped, in fact, that a summer on the prairies might relieve or even cure the malady that had impaired his eyes and, he feared, his heart and brain as well. He had done his best to cure it by systematic exercise, hard living in the White Mountains, and a regimen self-imposed in the code of his Puritan ancestors which would excuse no weakness. But more specifically Parkman was going west to study the Indians. He intended to write the history of the conflict between imperial Britain and imperial France, which was in great part a story of Indians. The Conspiracy of Pontiac had already taken shape in his mind; beyond it stretched out the aisles and transepts of what remains the most considerable achievement by an American historian. So he needed to see some uncorrupted Indians in their native state. It was Parkman’s fortune to witness and take part in one of the greatest national experiences, at the moment and site of its occurrence. It is our misfortune that he did not understand the smallest part of it. No other historian, not even Xenophon, has ever had so magnificent an opportunity: Parkman did not even know that it was there, and if his trip to the prairies produced one of the exuberant masterpieces of American literature, it ought instead to have produced a key work of American history. But the other half of his inheritance forbade. It was the Puritan virtues that held him to the ideal of labor and achievement and kept him faithful to his goal in spite of suffering all but unparalleled in literary history. And likewise it was the narrowness, prejudice, and mere snobbery of the Brahmins that insulated him from the coarse, crude folk who were the movement he traveled with, turned him shuddering away from them to rejoice in the ineffabilities of Beacon Hill, and denied our culture a study of the American empire at the moment of its birth. Much may rightly be regretted, therefore. But set it down also that, though the Brahmin was indifferent to Manifest Destiny, the Puritan took with him a quiet valor which has not been outmatched among literary folk or in the history of the West.” 1 likes
“et le bon temps viendra.” 0 likes
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