In late October 1846, the last wagon train of that year's westward migration stopped overnight before resuming its arduous climb over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, unaware that a fearsome storm was gathering force. After months of grueling travel, the 81 men, women and children would be trapped for a brutal winter with little food and only primitive shelter. The conclusion...more
The author does, of course, discuss the cannibalism that was necessary for survival, but he does so without any sensationalism or gory det ...more
Searching on my nook later at the hotel, I came across Desperate Passage.
I really like the way Ethan Rarick researched the whole story, the book starts at the beginning of the Donnor Party journey and tells the whole story. Many things lead to the end result, delays, poor advice followed, pride and lack of know ...more
I couldn't put it down. It truly brought history to life. And I found a couple of wonderful heroes to look up to.
The first half of the book takes you into the lives of people on the westward trail. You learn about individuals who were drawn to take their families to a new land out west. Then you see what life was like upon the wagon trail and the decisions they had to make along the way. It's a very engaging account.
I found myself wondering how *I* wo ...more
This may be overly picky of me, but I hate it when nonfiction books get into "reasonable speculation" (as the author of this book calls it in the Author's Note). This book has a lot of relevant but unimportant speculative "details" about, for example, how a certain person loved riding horses and feeling the wind whip through her hair. Unless there's something from a primary source to back up that sort of detail, I really don't care.
At any rate, th ...more
I thought this was an excellent introduction to the events that unfolded in the winter of 1846 in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Much more emphasis is placed on the journey itself and the people in the party than on the atrocious events that occurred that winter. While the subject matter isn't for the squeamish, this book ...more
But if you've never read anything about the Donner party, this is a good place to start. It covers all of the general bases and does have a few additional pieces of information regarding our current und ...more
The Donner Party. 1840's expansion west. A huge cavalcade leaves Independence, MO for the good life in California. Everything is going ok until, George Donner, the leader of the group makes a fateful decision to go off on a splinter group and leave the main party. He has read a guidebook that tells of a shortcut and will shave two weeks of the journ ...more
I was hesitant to read this book even though I know the history of the Donner Party, simply because I was worried it would be a grisly retelling of the horrors they experienced while trapped in the Sierras. While the book does detail the experiences of the group, including the desperate measures they had to take in order to survive, I found it to be thoughtfully narrated and considerate of both the reader and the people whose stories it told.