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About this item
Number of Pages: 288
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Book theme: 19th Century
Author: Ethan Rarick
Street Date: July 8, 2009
Item Number (DPCI): 247-08-7550
"His is the first significant book, written, like Stewart's, in a novelistic mode and likely to gain popular readership, to incorporate this new data...Rarick's account is not really about science; it's about humanity...Rarick has done his homework."--New York Times Book Review
"This sober, unflinching look at one of the great tragedies of America's pioneering past tells us a great deal that is new about the Donner Party's trials. Rarick scythes away the myths of one of the nation's better-known sagas, and offers up this horrific but ennobling tale in all its freshly researched detail. Readers take heed: this is a tough book, but a gripping one."--Simon Winchester, author of Krakatoa
"Rarick takes an evenhanded and thorough approach to the story of the Donners' covered-wagon migration across the country and their winter entrapment in the Sierras. His telling is evocative and easy to read."--Seattle Times
"Desperate Passage is the most up-to-date narrative history of the Donner Party available today and as such is a welcome addition to the literature. General readers, especially those who know of the Donner party only as the cannibal wagon train, will undoubtedly find it a fascinating read."--Overland Journal
"Many books tell the Donner story, but none digs as deep for the truth as Ethan Rarick's Desperate Passage: The Donner Party's Perilous Journey West...With personal details...bringing a human touch to the story, Desperate Passage succeeds in rescuing the Donner Party from 162 years of infamy."--Tacoma News Tribune
"A history of the first rank--precise, restrained and compelling...Desperate Passage makes a gripping tale, and Rarick makes a scrupulous guide."--Cleveland Plain Dealer
"With a reporter's doggedness and a scholar's thoroughness, Rarick has clarified the historical details...Rarick makes this compelling frontier drama all the more so."--National Geographic Adventure Magazine
"A clean, chilling cautionary story of misjudgment and perseverance...Rarick deals with this most extreme of issues [cannibalism] with the evenhandedness and lack of melodrama that characterize the book throughout."--Houston Chronicle
"A well-written, copiously documented account."--Deseret Morning News
"Reads like a novel, and for those who are drawn to American history...coupled with one of the most grisly survival tales in history, then this is the absolute book for you."--Monsters and Critics website
"Desperate Passage is a wise book, not only a horror or an adventure story but a universal and timeless tale about acts of desperation performed by average people under extreme conditions--a situation that can befall coal miners in Utah, soccer teams in the Andes, occupants of the World Trade Center, or readers of the book."--Philip L. Fradkin, author of Wallace Stegner and the American West
"Rarick illuminates this classic America stage through a deftly told drama of courage and cowardice...with a fascinating cast ranging from the iconic American Everyman to the astonishing scoundrels."--Van Gordon Sauter, former President, CBSNews
"Like the foreboding passages in an operatic overture, the ordeal of the Donner Party warned Americans that tragedy could not be banished from this newly acquired province. In this meticulously detailed narrative, Ethan Rarick presents the full horror and bravery of a dystopian episode that would forever qualify the California experience."--Kevin Starr, University of Southern California, author of Americans and the California Dream
"The story of the ill-fated Donner Party's trek across the country is the reverse image of Lewis and Clark's: seemingly everything that could go wrong, did go wrong--from bad leadership to disastrous choices, from fatal accidents to murderous fights, and finally a ghastly ordeal in the Sierra snows. It's a remarkable story for all generations, and with the advantage of updated research and a keen eye for detail, Ethan Rarick builds a quick-moving narrative."--Dayton Duncan, author of Out West: An American Journey Along the Lewis and Clark Trail
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