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Death Valley in '49: Important chapter of California pioneer history : the autobiography of a pioneer, detailing his life from a humble ... children who gave "Death Valley" its name
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Death Valley in '49: Important chapter of California pioneer history : the autobiography of a pioneer, detailing his life from a humble ... children who gave "Death Valley" its name

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  173 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
St. Albans Vermont is near the eastern shore of Lake Champlain and only a short distance south of "Five-and-forty north degrees" which separates the United States from Canada and some sixty or seventy miles from the great St. Lawrence River and the city of Montreal.
Paperback, 498 pages
Published May 1st 1977 by Printed and distributed by Chalfant Press (first published July 1st 1852)
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Lorena
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read several first-person accounts of Euro-Americans moving west, but this epic tops them all. The author's honorable sensibilities and keen powers of observation and description allowed me to rest in his very capable hands as he rolled out the strenuous adventures that took him from his teenage years (when he left home to become a fur trader) to his later walk across the Mojave Desert on the way to California. His detailed descriptions of the country, trapping techniques, animal life, surp ...more
Timothy Scott
Jan 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a book to research the time period, it was both an enjoyable read and informative. The longest stretch of reading, of course, delves into the author's experience in traveling to California through Death Valley. Needless to say, it's a journey fraught with danger and death, but is also revealing about the character of men in such circumstances and their admirable survival skills (and stamina!).

The author is commended for remaining humble and straightforward in his descriptions of events, and h
...more
Sharon
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent account of the group of Americans who left their homes to seek their fortunes in the California gold mines in 1849. The author, who was 28 at the time, was among those who decided to take a short cut through Death Valley in order to avoid getting caught in the Sierra Nevada's during a snowstorm. The unfortunate experience of the Donner party three years prior was widely known. They could not afford to spend the winter in Salt Lake City, because there were no jobs to be had. So they ...more
Caro
Feb 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books
A bit rambling, but fascinating. Was particularly struck by the author's resourcefulness. What, your boat is irretrievably stuck on the rocks in a narrow canyon? Just wade downstream until you come to a couple of trees, and make a new boat! The Death Valley trip - the reason I read this - is harrowing. Imagine being so thirsty that you can't even swallow food. Hope our experience is less hazardous...
James (JD) Dittes
Crossing Death Valley seemed like a good idea at the time. The "emirgrants" had arrived in Salt Lake City too late in 1849 to take the traditional route over the Sierra-Nevada Mountains. And the leader of the wagon train proposed to travel all the way down to the Colorado River and then across the Mohave Desert to Los Angeles. Death Valley was a shortcut--one that was taken by William L. Manly and the Bennett Party, along with a party who called themselves "Jayhawkers."

The journey was no short c
...more
Steve Gallenson
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Important read for all western history enthusiasts

Death Valley in 49 is a important book. It has been said, for many years, to be one of the most important books for understanding the history of the trail of Utah and California.
Mayda Mcmillan
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book that gives the history of California and the sacrifices that the pioneers had to endure to reach it and create this wonderful state.
John
Oct 16, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was kind of surprised that this book only has a few reviews. The nineteenth century is one of my favorite historical periods. Before the railroads and the telegraph, the world moved at the speed of a horse. In the case of Manly, his average speed from Salt Lake City to the gold fields in 1849 was more likely that of a man walking. In his wagon train, all the human traits of goodness, self sacrifice, selfishness and fear became daily companions as the men, women and children became trapped in a ...more
Alex
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredible record of Western history. Imagine standing on the eastern edge of the Great Basin as a pioneer, and on the strength of some exceptionally bad advice, deciding to press on to California, with no real concept of how far you will have to travel, or where to find your next sources of food and water. Manly crossed through Death Valley not once, but three times, in order to save the other members of his party, and if the recounting of that adventure wasn't enough, he leaves us with a gr ...more
Sam
Jul 18, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Travel Literateurs
Manly had been a rather young man when he traveled with the first wagon train to cross Death Valley in the 1849 gold rush, and eloquent though his prose seldom his, his account of the desperate situation is . . . . . . . . . occasionally riveting. This 1998 Wood Works edition rather creatively renders Manly's story in a measured, condensed form, introducing line breaks, titling and the occasional transitional word. It's intriguing, I'm saying, though I wouldn't quite say it compares to Livingsto ...more
Scott Ferry
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very easy 'memoire' to read. A tale of deep physical suffering, pure survival, death at every moment. Ties in nicely with my reading of Year of Descision 1846. William Manly starts in Vermont as a little boy. His journey as he grows up takes us through Michigan and eventually to his interest in California gold. He takes a different cut-off to the gold rush area to avoid the 20 foot snow drifts in the mountains and heads down the Green River in a raft, eventually this excursion leads them throu ...more
Jacob
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A fascinating first person account of the move out west. It's made substantially more interesting by the author's foray into Death Valley (which his party named) and the subsequent trials. As the young single man in a party of families he doesn't jettison them to strike off on his own (fortunately for him as they had oxen to eat) and proves to be a good, honest person in crossing the Mojave three times in seeking, returning with, and then exiting with help that he found them. Bully for Manly.



Amy
Nov 02, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Manly was part of the wagon train that named Death Valley after they survived being lost there. For being an 'average guy' he writes the story well. It is an interesting side note that he states a couple times how helpful the 'native Californians' are and how much he owes to them. Native Californians that he meets along the way speak Spanish.
Benjamin L
Jun 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scott Holmes
Oct 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another of those great portraits of the American West when it was still dangerous for the white man to be there.

I have a nicely bound Time Life edition from the Classics of the Old West series. Reprinted 1982 from the 1894 edition.
Jean
I found very interesting the preconceptions and interactions that the travellers had with the native people. Here is a great example of early events that began to shape race relations in the U.S. south and mid-west.
Gary Gray
Mar 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not much to say about this book. If you have an interest in Death Vallry, this is a must read book. If you don't have an interest in The history of Death Valley, you probably shouldn't read this book.
Janie
Jun 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decent

I enjoyed the book but it got a bit repetitive in 3/4 of the book. The last 1/4 was much more exciting.
Donna
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the main narrative, but there are some distracting chapters in the middle that could have been skipped or put in an appendix.
Randy
Nov 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books of all time!!
Debbie Oliver
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting story of perseverance...I read the RR Donnelly reprint. This is a collectible series. This book was the 25th in their still going series of historical reprints.
Hallie
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If ever there was a badass, it was the author of this book. I think this calls for a second trip to Death Valley.
Charlie
Jul 25, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating historic story!
Joshua
Mar 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a riveting account of early California history and is a testament to the stamina and grit the pioneers. Well worth the read.
Iniville
A page-turner.
Ed Davis
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extradordinaly detail . . extraordinary adventure, and true!
Debbie Zapata
Interesting to think of Wisconsin as "The Frontier"....but once the author finally got himself to Death Valley, the story became boring and I gave up.
Judith Merow
rated it it was ok
Apr 26, 2016
Holly Hollinger
rated it really liked it
Jul 01, 2014
JRGlasoe
rated it it was amazing
Sep 22, 2017
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