From the #1 bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat comes an unforgettable epic of family, tragedy, and survival on the American frontier
"An ideal pairing of talent and material.... Engrossing.... A deft and ambitious storyteller." -- Mary Roach, New York Times Book Review
In April of 1846, twenty-one-year-old Sarah Graves, intent on a better future, set out west from Illinois with her new husband, her parents, and eight siblings. Seven months later, after joining a party of pioneers led by George Donner, they reached the Sierra Nevada Mountains as the first heavy snows of the season closed the pass ahead of them. In early December, starving and desperate, Sarah and fourteen others set out for California on snowshoes, and, over the next thirty-two days, endured almost unfathomable hardships and horrors.
In this gripping narrative, New York Times bestselling author Daniel James Brown sheds new light on one of the most legendary events in American history. Following every painful footstep of Sarah's journey with the Donner Party, Brown produces a tale both spellbinding and richly informative.
Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award
A New York Times Notable Book
Winner of the Texas Book Award
Winner of the Oklahoma Book Award This stunning historical account of the forty-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West "is nothing short of a revelation...will leave dust and blood on your jeans" (The New York Times Book Review). Empire of the Summer Moon spans two astonishing stories. The first traces the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history. The second entails one of the most remarkable narratives ever to come out of the Old West: the epic saga of the pioneer woman Cynthia Ann Parker and her mixed-blood son Quanah, who became the last and greatest chief of the Comanches. Although readers may be more familiar with the tribal names Apache and Sioux, it was in fact the legendary fighting ability of the Comanches that determined when the American West opened up. Comanche boys became adept bareback riders by age six; full Comanche braves were considered the best horsemen who ever rode. They were so masterful at war and so skillful with their arrows and lances that they stopped the northern drive of colonial Spain from Mexico and halted the French expansion westward from Louisiana. White settlers arriving in Texas from the eastern United States were surprised to find the frontier being rolled backward by Comanches incensed by the invasion of their tribal lands. The war with the Comanches lasted four decades, in effect holding up the development of the new American nation. Gwynne's exhilarating account delivers a sweeping narrative that encompasses Spanish colonialism, the Civil War, the destruction of the buffalo herds, and the arrival of the railroads, and the amazing story of Cynthia Ann Parker and her son Quanah--a historical feast for anyone interested in how the United States came into being. Hailed by critics, S. C. Gwynne's account of these events is meticulously researched, intellectually provocative, and, above all, thrillingly told. Empire of the Summer Moon announces him as a major new writer of American history.
"WESTWARD HO FOR OREGON AND CALIFORNIA "
In the eerily warm spring of 1846, George Donner placed this advertisement in a local newspaper as he and a restless caravan prepared for what they hoped would be the most rewarding journey of a lifetime. But in eagerly pursuing what would a century later become known as the "American dream," this optimistic-yet-motley crew of emigrants was met with a chilling nightmare; in the following months, their jingoistic excitement would be replaced by desperate cries for help that would fall silent in the deadly snow-covered mountains of the Sierra Nevada.
We know these early pioneers as the Donner Party, a name that has elicited horror since the late 1840s. With The Best Land Under Heaven, Wallis has penned what critics agree is "destined to become the standard account" (Washington Post) of the notorious saga. Cutting through 160 years of myth-making, the "expert storyteller" (True West) compellingly recounts how the unlikely band of early pioneers met their fate. Interweaving information from hundreds of newly uncovered documents, Wallis illuminates how a combination of greed and recklessness led to one of America's most calamitous and sensationalized catastrophes. The result is a "fascinating, horrifying, and inspiring" (Oklahoman) examination of the darkest side of Manifest Destiny.
Renowned storyteller Dee Brown, author of the bestselling Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, recreates the struggles of Native Americans, settlers, and ranchers in this stunning volume that illuminates the history of the old West that's filled with maps and vintage photographs.Beginning with the demise of the Native Americans of the Plains, Brown depicts the onrush of the burgeoning cattle trade and the waves of immigrants who ultimately "settled" the land. In the retelling of this oft-told saga, Brown has demonstrated once again his abilities as a master storyteller and an entertaining popular historian. By turns heroic, tragic, and even humorous, The American West brings to life American tragedy and triumph in the years from 1840 to the turn of the century, and a roster of characters both great and small: Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Dull Knife, Crazy Horse, Captain Jack, John H. Tunstall, Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, Wyatt Earp, the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, Wild Bill Hickok, Charles Goodnight, Oliver Loving, Buffalo Bill, and many others. The American West is about cattle and the railroads; it is about settlers who came to claim a land not originally their own and how they slowly imposed law and order on these wild and untamed places; and it is about the wanton destruction of the Native American way of life. This is epic history at its best and popular history at its most readable. This new work is culled from Dee Brown's highly acclaimed writings, which instantly established him as one of America's foremost Western authorities. Fully revised, rewritten, and edited into one seamless account of America's most famous frontier, this epic narrative, along with the introduction and a chronological table of events, etches an unforgettable and poignant portrait. The American West is at once a tribute to the West and a majestic new peak for a writer whose long and successful career has been synonymous with excellence in frontier history.
In this ambitious story of American imperial conquest and capitalist development, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Steven Hahn takes on the conventional histories of the nineteenth century and offers a perspective that promises to be as enduring as it is controversial. It begins and ends in Mexico and, throughout, is internationalist in orientation. It challenges the political narrative of "sectionalism," emphasizing the national footing of slavery and the struggle between the northeast and Mississippi Valley for continental supremacy. It places the Civil War in the context of many domestic rebellions against state authority, including those of Native Americans. It fully incorporates the trans-Mississippi west, suggesting the importance of the Pacific to the imperial vision of political leaders and of the west as a proving ground for later imperial projects overseas. It reconfigures the history of capitalism, insisting on the centrality of state formation and slave emancipation to its consolidation. And it identifies a sweeping era of "reconstructions" in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that simultaneously laid the foundations for corporate liberalism and social democracy. The era from 1830 to 1910 witnessed massive transformations in how people lived, worked, thought about themselves, and struggled to thrive. It also witnessed the birth of economic and political institutions that still shape our world. From an agricultural society with a weak central government, the United States became an urban and industrial society in which government assumed a greater and greater role in the framing of social and economic life. As the book ends, the United States, now a global economic and political power, encounters massive warfare between imperial powers in Europe and a massive revolution on its southern border―the remarkable Mexican Revolution―which together brought the nineteenth century to a close while marking the important themes of the twentieth.