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Publisher's Summary

In April 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 emigrants 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 best-selling author Daniel James Brown sheds new light on one of the most infamous 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.

©2009 Daniel James Brown (P)2014 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Brown draws from the many previously published accounts of the tragedy.... But he tells the tale with a novelist's touch." ( Boston Globe)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    314
  • 4 Stars
    169
  • 3 Stars
    48
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    6

Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    226
  • 4 Stars
    144
  • 3 Stars
    79
  • 2 Stars
    30
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    17

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    130
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    32
  • 2 Stars
    6
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful story but...

I usually don't write reviews, but I thought since I downloaded this book as soon as it was available to do so, and it looks like there are no other reviews at the moment, I would take the time to give other people an idea of what to expect.

First of all, the story and research are top-notch, exactly what I would expect from Daniel James Brown, especially after listening to his amazing book, "The Boys in the Boat". Unlike "Boys" though (of which the reader was amazing), the narrator for this story is severely lacking. In fact, had I not been so enthralled and interested in the subject matter, I would have turned this off within the first 30 minutes. Something about the way Michael Prichard ends his sentences and uses inflections...it's just all wrong for this story. But like I said, the story itself if excellent, so if you are interested in this subject, it might be worth powering through the poor performance like I did. And I must say...it was been a full week since I listened to this and I still find myself thinking about these poor people and what they went through, and most likely will continue to do so for some time to come.

30 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great read, bad narration

Couldn't stand the narrator which is too bad because the story is wonderfully written... I would have preferred a female since the work revolves around Sarah

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good compilation of the history.

This was a great compilation of the history of the migration west. It wasn't as good as his book Boys in a Boat but still a good book. Sometimes the side tidbits distracted from the story. Such a sad story but it is apart of our history. The narrator was monotone and made the story hard to listen to.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A Sad History of the Donner Party

11/9/16
I read this book a couple of years ago in hard cover, and now I am listening to it as an audiobook for a book club selection this month. I gave it 4 stars on the first read, but that may change on this listen since the narrator is pretty terrible. The topic is grim and not what I should be reading right now, but I need to do it in time for the group discussion so here goes...

11/10/16
In spite of the sad and disturbing topic, I would give this narrative a 4.5. The narrator became less annoying as the book progressed, but he was only acceptable. Otherwise, I might rate the book a low 5. I liked it better this time than the first reading. It is a clear account of the the Donner Party tragedy, viewed from the perspective of one of the survivors. The author actually went to the places the emigrants inhabited on their journey at the time of year they were there. This added authenticity to his descriptions as this narrative history progressed.

I'm glad that I had a second pass at this book; it was worthwhile.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Historical story, boring reader

Story was somewhat interesting, in a history sort of way. Had trouble following who was who in the story, there are a lot of people to remember who's who and each relationship. Reader was a bit monotone. But I'm glad I know the story now, so not sorry I listened. Just glad it's over!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Well researched, well written, well read.

Any additional comments?

Other users have left reviews complaining of poor narration. Michael Prichard does a fine job in my opinion, don't let the poor reviews scare you away from enjoying this great book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Exceptional Book, Thanks LP On The Left!

Loved it! Heard about the book thanks to the guys at Last Podcast On The Left. I knew the basic outline of what happened, however, this book filled in some blanks and corrected my basic understanding. I did not understand the immensity of what happened. To be honest, this is the first time I understood the hardships of the pioneers and especially what happened to the Donner Party. Exceptional narration as well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding, chilling, gripping.

One of the best books I've read in a long time. I had known the basic history of the Donner party, but this author fills out each figure with a real sense of humanity, using as much as he was able to intuit from the clues each left behind. Prepare to be moved and haunted for some time to come by this true tale of people who endured the unendurable and did the unthinkable to survive.
The reader has the straightforward delivery of a 1940's radio reporter, which annoyed me at first, but quickly melted into the power of the story being told early on. All in all a brilliant piece of work.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An absolutely amazing story

I never really understood the tragedy of the Donner Party until now. The story is incredible and we'll researched to add scientific and historical details that really highlight the situation and the life and death struggle.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Riveting..

The description of life in 1846 is beautiful and well-written enabling me to "see" and experience it. Not just the harrowing details of the travails of the Donner Party but details about the people, the everyday trials is intertwined with details from modern science and psychology. I would read any book written by this author. Highly recommend this book.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful