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History of the Donner Party: A Tragedy of the Sierra 1st Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0804703673
ISBN-10: 0804703671
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Frequently Bought Together

  • History of the Donner Party: A Tragedy of the Sierra
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  • The Expedition of the Donner Party and Its Tragic Fate
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  • Ordeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner Party
Total price: $44.04
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Historians owe much to the patient industry of McGlashan, who brought together the facts of the tragic Donner episode. . . . McGlashan's work will remain the standard, as well as the pioneer, presentation of facts. The editors have made a notable contribution in their lengthy introduction as well as in the maps, editors' notes, and bilbiography."—The American Historical Review


"The author's account is still the best available on that famous expedition."—Lake Charles American Press


"One of the most important sources of information concerning perhaps the best known, because it is the most sensational and horrifying, episode in western American history. . . . The History of the Donner Party is a splendid piece of work."—Utah Humanities Review


"McGashan expended tremendous energy in amassing historical evidence about the tragic fate of the party. . . . The firsthand information endowed his writing with immediacy and vitality. As a description of what happened, the book stands alone."—Choice


"Though first published over 60 years ago, McGlashan's notable book on the Donner party has been in constant demand, and this facsimile republication, with definite bibliography, additional maps, photographs and notes, together with an extensive foreword on McGlashan by George H. and Bliss McGlashan Hinkle constitutes the finest edition yet offered. . . . [McGlashan's] book is still a source on one of the west's greatest epics, and is here presented in a thoroughly satisfying edition."—San Jose Herald
"This is a great item of Americana."—Saturday Review of Literature
"[History of the Donner Party] is now reprinted with excellent editorial notes and foreword by George H. and Bliss McGlashan Hinkle. Increasing its value for collectors of western Americana, the text is a photographic reproduction of the standard 1880 edition."—Salt Lake Tribune
"It remains supreme in its field."—The Argonaut
"An item of Americana in general and of California's history in particular, this is an account of a tragic episode in the vast westward migration of the 19th century. . . . A reasonable and authentic version. The lengthy introduction, the editors' notes, the maps and bibliography, contribute a great deal to the factual matter in the body of the works. . . . It is gripping and heart-rending and can be read by those interested in adventure as well as by the students of history."—Kliatt
“No book in recent years has given us so much pleasure as The History of the Donner Party, by C. F. McGlashan. . . . Seldom does a book written so long ago have the power of transporting one back through the years to that far-off day. But The History of the Donner Party does.”—The Grizzly Bear Magazine

From the Back Cover

“Historians owe much to the patient industry of McGlashan, who brought together the facts of the tragic Donner episode. . . . McGlashan’s work will remain the standard, as well as the pioneer, presentation of facts. The editors have made a notable contribution in their lengthy introduction as well as in the maps, editors’ notes, and bilbiography.”—The American Historical Review
“The author’s account is still the best available on that famous expedition.”—Lake Charles American Press
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1 edition (June 1, 1940)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804703671
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804703673
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,082,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The McGlashan book has been in print almost continuously for nearly 120 years. While not the entire story, it is still the book against which all Donner Party stories are measured. It is a compelling story of the classic American tragedy of the western migration, showing the many complex sides of the individuals involved in the story. It is mandatory reading for anyone interested in our western history
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Format: Paperback
While certainly a worthwile book on the tragedy of the Donner Party, the book does have its weaknesses. Specifically, McGlashan's research is less than objective. As George Stewart points out in his better book on the subject, "Ordeal By Hunger," McGlashan was very sloppy with his facts. His personal friendship with a few of the Donner Party survivors also biases his writing. Still, the book is a very important read for those interested in this historic tragedy. For the money, though, Stewart's book is the better choice
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Format: Paperback
It's hard to believe that what is written down in this book ir real. But, real it is. Once you start reading it you can't put it down. It holds you spellbound. Pulls at your heartstrings as you read what this party had to go through. It would be impossible today for people to stand up to what these people did. This book is well worth the reading. These people had the strength, fortitude that is seldom found today.
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Format: Paperback
A huge wagon train split up at the western end of the great salt lake. Most of the emigrants took the traditional route to California. Some of them decided to go through Hasting's cutoff. Hasting had gone to California on the regular route. He wrote The Emigrant's Guide To California. Inside the book, there was a new route, a route which Hastings thought up. He had never actually tried it out when the Donner Party came. It turned out to be much rougher, and even longer than the regular route. 3 people died before they even reached Donner Lake. At Donner Lake, the party was trapped in the snow. They built several cabins, but the Donners themselves never got to the lake. They put up several tents on Alder Creek. They ran out of food, and sent several small, unsuccessful parties to California. They became desperate, and sent out one last party, "The Forlorn Hope." Those who were strong enough, set out for California. There were 15 people in the Forlorn Hope. The first to die of hunger and cold was a 13 year old, Lemuel. His sister couldn't watch as the rest of the Forlorn Hope ate Lemuel. More people died, but eventually, the remaining seven, reached Sutter's fort. Meanwhile, James F. Reed, who had been banished from the party, assembled a rescue party. The first try to reach the people at the lake was unsuccessful. Eventually they get to the lake, and rescue the people they could. This is a great book about the Donner Party. It was written in a way that makes it hard to read for anyone under 12, but it captured the drama perfectly.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have visited many of the places associated with the Donner Party and have been particularly impressed with the litany of small events and questionable decisions made by the group which led to the disaster. This volume is an excellent account of the events told from a first hand perspective involving many of the survivors. A good read if you don't mind the nineteenth century style of writing.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I live in Sacramento area and am fascinated by the Donner party tragedy. I have read a lot of books and articles about what they went through. While this book has a fascinating read and keeps the readers attention, I found that some of the facts differ from what I have read elsewhere, especially about those that traveled out to get assistance. I would still recommended reading it, but read other accounts, too, to get a broader sense of what went on at that time.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've read a few books on the Donner Party and have found the cast of characters daunting and the number of rescue missions difficult to sort out. Charles Fayette McGlashan lays out the general travel of the Donner party most clearly and provides the best overview.

McGlashan at times writes in a very melodramatic fashion, sometimes peppered with exclamation marks to drive home the plight of the travelers. At one point, he defends the need for the Donner Party to kill some Indian guides for food. Not politically correct for today, it sheds light on the attitude towards Indians at the time.

Included are excerpts from letters and diaries written on the trail, and interviews made afterward. I found the interview with Lewis Keseberg most fascinating. He is so often characterized as a willing cannibal. I have never read his account of the story before and it is well worth downloading this book just to read his interview.

The last part of the book recounts a short biography of John A. Sutter, who helped supply the rescue operations, and also the fate of each survivor. Some might find that interesting, but the cast of characters is so huge that I found it time consuming and a bit of a drag.

The Kindle version does not sport a clickable table of contents. The chapters are numbered, followed by a curious string of words which look like they could be a mass of titles jumbled together in a paragraph. For instance, the first chapter begins with, "Donner Lake A famous Tourist Resort Building the Central Pacific California's Skating Park The Pioneers The Organization of the Donner Party Ho! for California! A mammoth Train The Dangers by the Way . . . ." It went on for another five lines. I made sure to skip it but found it distracting.
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