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 is known: by spring of the next year, the Donner Party was synonymous with the most harrowing extremes of human survival. But until now, the full story of what happened--and what it tells us about human nature and about America's westward expansion--remained shrouded in myth.
Drawing on fresh archeological evidence, recent research on topics ranging from survival rates to snowfall totals, and heartbreaking letters and diaries made public by descendants a century-and-a-half after the tragedy, Ethan Rarick offers an intimate portrait of the Donner party and their unimaginable ordeal: a mother who must divide her family, a little girl who shines with courage, a devoted wife who refuses to abandon her husband, a man who risks his life merely to keep his word. Rarick resists both the gruesomely sensationalist accounts of the Donner party as well as later attempts to turn the survivors into archetypal pioneer heroes. "The Donner Party," Rarick writes, "is a story of hard decisions that were neither heroic nor villainous. Often, the emigrants displayed a more realistic and typically human mixture of generosity and selfishness, an alloy born of necessity."
A fast-paced, heart-wrenching, clear-eyed narrative history, Desperate Passage casts new light on one of America's most horrific encounters between the dream of a better life and the harsh realities such dreams so often must confront.
©2009 Ethan Rarick; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
Many true artic and sea survival stories...but much closer to home and more powerful...
Several...but I won't spoil the story...
Well worth the listen...interesting history of American exploration and expansion westward...with details of daily life and personal accounts from journals, diaries, and letters... a fascinating look back into the past...
It made me imagine..." what if...???"
Makes me appreciate life more & more every time I think of the story.
This story was so well narrated and the historical information was very enlightening and interesting and I really enjoyed learning about this historical event......would recommend
Profesionl, hard working woman who travels weekly, enjoys life. My best Friends are Michael and Scooter. Nonfiction books are the best!
To remember the strength of the human heart and what these brave imigrants went thru. Look at our world now compared to what it must have looked like to them...
None so far but It's history, its the truth, would I have the strength? the courage?
No, but I will be looking for more.
The whole listen was hard to put down, I put myself in their places, with my children, friends, what decissions would I have made? I probably would have eaten anything or anyone!!!
I had heard this story many times in the past. It was a great account of what happened according to the journals and historical information we now have.
This book made me sad to think of the horrid things these pioneers had to endure and the choices they had to make in order for them or their families to survive. I kept having visions of my own 4 year old grandson having to live thru this. It brought very vivid scenes to my imagination.
This story is researched well and told in an exciting way. Having visited some of the sites that the Donner party passed through, it is remarkable that they even made it to Donner Lake. The hardships of traveling across the Salt Lake desert almost finished the group. However, at Donner Lake their troubles really began. It is difficult to imagine how bad it must have been at the lake for these people. They attempted to cross the mountains in their terrible condition, weak from not eating, striking out with the relief parties, in snow 20 feet deep, with small children who had to be carried. Given what they faced at the lake camps, the cannibalism, for which the story is known, is much easier to understand.
Stanton, the single man, with no need to risk his life, was the most honorable character. He had no real reason to go back for the others expect on principle and it cost him dearly.
Love the vocabulary (vexatious, onerous, amiable) and the metaphors ("buyoed by optimism"). Certainly feels like I really understand the terrain and hardships so much better. Most focus on the Donners alone, but an emphasis on the Reeds is interesting and lively. This incredibly researched narrative history will leave you wanting more. I already started looking for more books by the same author. Enjoy!
This book was difficult to leave.
The entire book was wonderful.
Yes, in parts, I cried.
A wonderful read!
The facts are undeniable and horrifying- settlers resorting to cannablism. What I found most shocking though was how inspiring a story it was. I have never been so motivated as these people were to pick up and leave my life and travel into the complete unknown.
When the Donner party is rescued was not how I imagened.
After his introduction about cannablism, which was hard to listen to- he calms it down and is more subtle and matter of fact.
Just what I said earlier. It is hard to wrap your brain around cannabilism but after you read -- you get it. And somehow, it's still scary but you understand.
Report Inappropriate Content