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Publisher's Summary

From a New York Times best-selling author, a sweeping history of the American West

In Dreams of El Dorado, H. W. Brands tells the thrilling, panoramic story of the settling of the American West. He takes us from John Jacob Astor's fur trading outpost in Oregon to the Texas Revolution, from the California gold rush to the Oklahoma land rush. He shows how the migrants' dreams drove them to feats of courage and perseverance that put their stay-at-home cousins to shame - and how those same dreams also drove them to outrageous acts of violence against indigenous peoples and one another. The West was where riches would reward the miner's persistence, the cattleman's courage, the railroad man's enterprise; but El Dorado was at least as elusive in the West as it ever was in the East.

Balanced, authoritative, and masterfully told, Dreams of El Dorado sets a new standard for histories of the American West.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2019 H. W. Brands (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A subject this monumental demands prose to match it, and I am pleased that to report that, in this sprawling epic, H. W. Brands is at his sparkling best. He is of the American West and grew up in its myths, which may explain why he writes about it with such passion and clarity." (S. C. Gwynne, New York Times best-selling author of Empire of the Summer Moon and Rebel Yell)

"The 'winning' of the American West is that biggest and most daunting of subjects, so big that most historians have found it necessary to bite off small corners of this grand and sordid tale of empire-building. But here H. W. Brands endeavors to tell it all, from Texas to California, from beaver pelts to buffalo robes, from the hoofbeats of horses to the steam blasts of the first transcontinental trains. Epic in its scale, fearless in its scope, this is a bravura performance from one of our master historians." (Hampton Sides, best-selling author of Blood and Thunder)

"The expansion of the United States across what would become the American West is the sort of sprawling, tumultuous epic that is best told by a calm and concentrated mind. Fortunately the author of this book is H. W. Brands, who has the vision and supreme narrative skill to braid the chaotic tendrils that make up the past into a story that is almost as exciting for its coherence as it is for the heroic and heartbreaking events it so vividly renders. Dreams of El Dorado is the latest reason to think of Brands as America's go-to historian." (Stephen Harrigan, author of Big Wonderful Thing and The Gates of the Alamo)

What listeners say about Dreams of El Dorado

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Dreadful narration

The poor narration made this book unlistenable for me. Every sentence is read as though it was the most profound thing ever said.

16 people found this helpful

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Superb

This includes most all topics: Indian relations/wars/personalities, mountain men, Mormons, the gold rush, the Oregon Trail, cattle drives, buffalo men, Mexican War, the continental railroad, and more. I was looking for a book like this for a long time. The writing is very fine as is the choice of what to include on each topic. Once I got used to the narrators voice I did not find it objectionable at all: he clearly enunciated and I did not find his emphasis as bad as some reviewers did.

4 people found this helpful

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Just misses the mark, sadly.

Good story! that we all should know. Just not expressed in an exciting manner. The reader tries, but not up to the audio book standard.

4 people found this helpful

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Great and pleasant book

The book guides to the formation of the west of the United States. With an amazing written, the author build a perfect timeline that explain the rise of states, moving of people, changes in history etc. All these with a friendly, but almost scholar and unbiased approach. One of the best books I read this year. Highly recommended for those who like history.

3 people found this helpful

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Dreadful narration

Pretty good book on the history of the American West. Especially the first few chapters were great and very engaging. However, the narration was awful, It sounded like the guy that narrates movie trailers. He als mispronounced many names.

Other than that, pretty good book.

2 people found this helpful

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A better narrator could have made it 5 stars

The story is marvelous, well written and the analysis of the various stages of development of the West was insightful. Disturbing were the various mispronunciations on the part of the narrator of Indian tribes and most of all the Willamette River and Valley. Emphasis is on the “a” and you should not just guess at that. I also felt he rushed his delivery. Some areas needed more gravity, deliberation. But well worth the listen.

2 people found this helpful

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Go West Young Man

Appreciate the fortitude of all the men and women who ventured west in this great country.

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Both entertaining and enlightening

This book gives a very good overall account of the stages in which the United States acquired, explored, exploited, and developed the Trans-Mississippi West and, what is more entertaining and sometimes saddening, more detailed accounts of significant incidents and individuals, admirable and otherwise, involved in each stage.

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Generally good, but...

Unfortunate that the reader learned how to pronounce “Tualatin” but couldn’t be bothered with the correct pronunciation of “Willamette” or “The Dalles”. Quite distracting.

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Attention Keeper

You'll love hearing accounts of history you never knew..... leaving you wanting more and more.

The reader is outstanding.

1 person found this helpful

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  • William
  • 08-10-21

The story of American expansion in the nineteenth century.

This overview of the expansion of the
USA covers all aspects from the Louisiana Purchase to Roosevelt’s ventures into the Philippines. It goes into considerable depth without getting bogged down in unnecessary detail. Generally the emphasis is on the part that particular individuals played in this story but these individuals can be usefully viewed as representatives of overall tendencies in the expansion of the United States. The book is always informative, generally well balanced, never boring and often exciting. It puts events depicted in any number of films into a proper historical perspective.