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Dreams of El Dorado: A History of the American West

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  51 ratings  ·  19 reviews
"Epic in its scale, fearless in its scope" (Hampton Sides), this balanced, authoritative, and masterfully told account of the American West from a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist sets a new standard as it sweeps from the California Gold Rush to the Texas Revolution and beyond.
In Dreams of El Dorado, H. W. Brands tells the thrilling, panoramic story of the settling of the American We
Hardcover, 544 pages
Published October 22nd 2019 by Basic Books
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Peter Tillman
Oct 25, 2019 marked it as to-read
WSJ review: (Paywalled. As always, I'm happy to email a copy to non-subscribers)
Excerpts: ". . .Lewis and Clark’s 28-month, 8,000-mile journey from St. Louis to Oregon and back not only represented an amazing feat of courage and endurance but established the precedent for federal sponsorship of exploration and scientific discovery that we still adhere to today. And despite the excitement and national pride that the expedition elicited, he reminds us that it was also something of a letdown. In
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I won this book in a goodreads drawing.

A popular history consisting of various histories of chapters of the American West. Most are pretty interesting and entertaining.
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

H.W. Brands' new book is an ambitious one: the story of the American west, both the history and the myth. Beginning with John Jacob Astor and the fur trade, stopping along to tell of revolutions in Texas, missionaries in Oregon, gold and land rushes in multiple territories, Mormons and ranchers, railroad expansion and native tribe decimation, Dreams Of El Dorado is a fascinating study in the history of how the American frontier was
Jul 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-mt-bookpile
This will make a great research tool for those looking to understand some of the history of events like the Gold Rush of 1849 or the Indian Wars. Sadly, there are connections missing between events and it feels as though the author isn't making a coherent argument or telling a full story. That's not to say the individual chapters/vignettes aren't well told, just that there seems to be more here that is needed for a real understanding of how the American West evolved.

ARC provided by p
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dreams of El Dorado is a story of the western expansion examined through the lens of histories, interviews and writings of the various periods and locales. What I liked about the book was the fact that I had either lived in the various areas of Texas and California, or visited them. Fortunately when I was in school, history was a well-taught subject.
Mr. Brands tries to give an even handed treatment to his subject.
I received the paperback book through a goodreads giveaway.
Anne Morgan
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: research
A well-researched and fascinating look at the American West- not as a geographic location but as an experience and mind-set. From Lewis and Clark to Roosevelt, trappers to cowboys, Oregon to Oklahoma, "Dreams of El Dorado" explores the changing aspects and cultures of the Western experience. Reading this, you get a feel for the physical and psychological expanse Americans thought of when they looked west, the endless possibilities and opportunities that could come along with the necessary hard w ...more
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A great book about the history of the American West. This book packs information of explorers, cowboys, to the gold rush in California to the Texas Revolution. If you enjoy reading about the history of the American West, I highly recommend this book.
Kelly Hodgkins
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
After coming to love historical novels, I discovered a large gap in my knowledge of the development of the United States. The historical fiction series The Daughters of the Mayflower began the journey raising so many interesting questions and giving me a snapshot of what really transpired at the close of each novel. Dreams of El Dorado by H.W. Brands is the continuation of that journey for me and it’s been a great education!

“Any work of history must have a beginning and an end. This
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dreams of El Dorado takes the reader on a journey into the settling of the West from its early frontier days through the establishment of the Western National Parks. Brands frames his book by not only introducing personalities but also issues that drove western settlement. He focuses on the quest for independence, economic reasons, religious freedom, health, scientific curiosity and a new start. Clashes between different ethnic groups and political factions are also portrayed.

Reading this book
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Brand's work is a great introduction to American Western history for the general reader. The book is arranged in thematic parts, with individual chapters acting as vignetts to tell the story. Brand identifies a number of themes that run through the West: the evoking and shattering of dreams, violence against the Plains indians, and Irony as well. Especially important is his ability to draw aside the curtain on the individualistic West and notes how vital Federal support for the west was. Whether ...more
Rather fascinating. I enjoyed the prologue especially as I enjoy learning about Theodore Roosevelt. Delving deeper into the history of the west was nice as school only takes you so far, especially when it's not something one continues on. I would highly recommend those who have a passion for history, learning, the west, cowboys, presidents, and reading in general.
Kay Mcleer
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love westerns and nonfiction, so when this came up for review I was very excited. I'm glad I was able to check this out as I really enjoyed reading it. It was well-researched and well written, you could tell the author enjoyed the topic.
This book seemed like a good thing. It gave some of the history of the America West. It just jumped around too much for me.

I received this book from Goodreads and was under no obligation to leave a reveiw.
Anthony J Bridges
Sound History

The author covers familiar territory in a chronological manner. The book is well written and flows at an easy pace. While there are no surprises the subject is clearly covered to a good level of detail.
Erika Kraus
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in the giveaway and what a treat to read! H.W. Brands is somewhat of an expert on this subject and references valid sources.
Solid one-volume history of the American West...nothing new here but a good entry.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars.
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
A sweeping and ambitious history of the development of the western US. Brands begins with the fur trappers of the northern Rockies and the Lewis and Clark expedition and goes all the way to Teddy Rosevelt and the establishment of national parks. He covers the settlement of Texas and its war for independence from Mexico, the Indian wars, the gold rush, the building of the railroad, the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails, the cattle drives and everything in between. Entire books have been written on each ...more
Oct 04, 2019 marked it as to-read
I am looking forward to reading this book!

Thank you Goodreads for this opportunity to read something in a new genre! I will post a proper review when I have completed this book.
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Henry William Brands was born in Portland, Oregon, where he lived until he went to California for college. He attended Stanford University and studied history and mathematics. After graduating he became a traveling salesman, with a territory that spanned the West from the Pacific to Colorado. His wanderlust diminished after several trips across the Great Basin, and he turned to sales of a differen ...more