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Lions of the West: Heroes and Villains of the Westward Expansion Paperback – August 21, 2012


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Lions of the West: Heroes and Villains of the Westward Expansion + Boone: A Biography (Shannon Ravenel Books)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: A Shannon Ravenel Book (August 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616201894
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616201890
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #927,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Robert Morgan’s latest work is a tour de force of historical concision, combining prodigious research and adroit synthesis. The biographer of Daniel Boone and prize-winning novelist and poet sets his sights on creating “a living sense of the westward expansion." –The Boston Globe

“In his fascinating, magnificent Lions of the West, Morgan ... writes with an enviable clarity that makes personalities, issues and events come alive on the page... This authoritative and enlightening book engages the reader from the first page and holds our attention until the last.” –BookPage

“Morgan's accounts of these key players make for an intriguing journey westward... Morgan has given us a stimulating and engaging account of how it all came about.” –Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Morgan begins his work with Jefferson — a lover of nature, patron of explorers and dreamer of expansion. Several pages are dedicated to Jefferson’s work, Notes on the State of Virginia. “His book is, among other things, a celebration and homage to his birth country," Morgan writes. Though he lacks Jefferson’s poetry, the same might be said about Morgan’s latest work.” –Newark Star-Ledger

“Highly entertaining... A highly readable, often enjoyable, perspective on some of the biggest American luminaries participating, either actively or philosophically, in the settlement of the American West.” –Roanoke Times

Lions of the West is a compelling and insightful history that reads like the talk of a learned companion...Morgan entertains with adventures and details, both high-minded and handy. His largest achievement is something of special note here. In his fiction, poetry, and history, Morgan represents a Scots-Irish/British tradition, and fuses, for all of America, romantic and pragmatic traditions.” –Asheville Citizen-Times

“Fans of David McCullough's big best sellers should eat this one up... Morgan knows that the root of history is story, and he has plenty to tell. He gives us wonderful moments: Sam Houston, in Cherokee costume, encountering Alexis de Tocqueville on a steamboat, or Abigail Adams meeting Alexander McGillivray, the half-caste, Charleston-educated chieftain of the Upper Creeks and judging him ‘much of a Gentleman.’ No novel can do better.” –Wilmington Star News

“Robert Morgan should be declared a national treasure, and his latest work, Lions of the West, is bound to become a classic in the study of American westward expansion.” –Charlotte News & Observer

“[Morgan’s] detailed storytelling is rather poetically fascinating. He reminds us that all figures in history were more than what they accomplished -- that many led the lives of everyday men...I now see the men behind the America I've always known.” –Iowa City Press-Citizen

“This valuable addition to the historical record is by a gifted historian and novelist. It fills the gap in a most interesting period of American history. It is a ‘can’t-put-it-down’ kind of history book.”
–Southern Pines Pilot

“History as it should be told: through colorful biographical sketches, Morgan presents the unvarnished story of the annexation and settling of the American West.” –Shelf Awareness

“Morgan has made the Old West his preserve…[his] sympathetic and thoughtful essay on Kit Carson ruminates on the moral challenges raised by westward expansion. Readers interested in the Old West will be rewarded.” –Publishers Weekly

“Morgan has done a good job of cherry-picking the best and the brightest of the bunch… a digestible introduction to American expansion, Manifest Destiny, and the larger-than-life men who led the inexorable charge westward.” –Booklist

“A vivid, well-conceived look at western expansion in the old narrative-driven school of Bernard DeVoto and Wallace Stegner.” –Kirkus Reviews


“A tour de force of historical concision, combining prodigious research and adroit synthesis.”
The Boston Globe


“Sometimes, superb research can yield memorable chronicling of lives in an economical manner, rather than in a detailed cradle to grave account. That is the case in Morgan’s compulsively readable group history.”
The Seattle Times


“Morgan’s marriage of history and well-wrought prose is as engrossing as it is edifying.”
The Louisville Courier-Journal


“Morgan’s accounts of these key players make for an intriguing journey westward . . . A stimulating and engaging account.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune


Lions of the West is history at its best.”
The Charleston Post and Courier


Lions of the West is history at its best.”
The Charleston Post and Courier

About the Author

ROBERT MORGAN is the author of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, most notably his novel Gap Creek and his biography of Daniel Boone, both of which were national bestsellers. A professor at Cornell University since 1971 and visiting writer-in-residence at half a dozen universities, his awards include Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellowships and an Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. He was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2010. Find him online at www.robert-morgan.com.

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Customer Reviews

Interesting and full of historical facts.
Bob Addington
Overall though, if you would like to read a captivating book and learn more about American history, I highly recommend Lions of the West.
Laura's Reviews
Let me add that in addition to winning the audio book through Library Thing's ER, I purchased the kindle version.
Raucous Rain

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Robert Busko TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Robert Morgan is one of the premier authors writing today in the South. Though many of his books have been fiction and poetry, his last two ventures, Boone, and his current release, Lions of the West: Heroes and Villains of the Westward Expansion are explorations into American history. Boone dealt exclusively with the life of Daniel Boone, his place and times and that work was well received nationally. Lions of the West, on the other hand looks at the lives of ten prominent Americans and their contributions to the American story and the settling of the west. When I say prominent, I mean Americans who have contributed significantly to our development and success. And, as the subtitle states, some of these people may have been villains, and others heroes and some have been both. I guess each will have their own opinions.

I believe that Morgan portrays these Americans in chronological order so Jefferson is the first personality that is explored. Then follows Andrew Jackson, John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed), David Crocket, Sam Houston, James K. Polk, Winfield Scott, Kit Carson, Nicholas Trist, and finally John Quincy Adams. The longest chapter is devoted to Winfield Scott and the shortest to John Chapman. Which is the most interesting? Again, everyone will have their own ideas.

One of the joys of books of this type are the tid-bits of knowledge picked up by reading the chapters. I'm always amazed when reading a book of history how the author develops the story he is going to tell. Sometimes, as an author spins his tale I wonder why this information or that information was included. In almost all cases, by reading on, all becomes clear. Morgan also lets his tale of each person wander, but never does he include needless information. You might be wondering why James K.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By bookczuk on March 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Short biographies of some of the people who either settled the American west, or created the policies that shaped it. I hadn't noticed until today that the subtitle is 'Heroes and Villains of the Westward Expansion. I expect much of my dissatisfaction (not with the writing, but with the personae explored, had to do with those that were villainous rather than heroic. The men the author wrote about were Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, John "Johnny Appleseed" Chapman, David Crockett, Sam Houston, James K. Polk, Winfield Scott, Kit Carson, Nicholas Trist, and John Quincy Adams. In general, it was the politicians I liked the least (the exception being David Crockett, because though he had a stint in Washington, he was at heart very different from the politicians of the day.) I developed my own system of keeping track.

Most Disappointing: Thomas Jefferson
Won my heart completely: John Chapman (aka Johnny Appleseed)
Best loser: David Crockett
I didn't know that: Sam Houston
Of interest to a Urology Nurse: James K Polk
All that and illiterate, too: Kit Carson

The book was interesting -- probably had it not been an audio book, I might have skim read, even with my love of history, but I did learn a lot about our interactions with Mexico and the discovery/exploration/annexing of the west. And then, next up, there was the Civil War.

I received this book via the kind auspices of LibraryThing Early Readers program, and the audio book publisher, Highbridge.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By dtrain487 on March 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
An excellent survey on westward expansion. Through the characters and events selected for this work, the author chronicles the history, justification, and spirit of Manifest Destiny. Jefferson, Chapman, Crockett, and Carson express the interest and spirit in which the west was explored. With Jackson, Crockett, Houston, and Scott the violent means of procuring land is explained. And, in Polk, Trist, and Adams we see the political machinations of expansion, diplomacy, and occupation. Morris debunks the common myth of imperial political desire as the driving force of expansion into the west. Instead, he explains, the government was simply reacting to the will of thousands of settlers and pioneers that trekked west in search of a better life.

In a very useful introduction Morris reminds the reader of the importance of perspective and selection in the telling of history. He admittedly recognizes that the history of westward expansion, as told in this book, is selective in that it's covered by the biography of ten men. However, he also understands that, in order to recount a story of such breadth in a reasonable volume, it is necessary to follow the lives of those that embodied the movement and left a trail of documentation (both oral and written) in their wake. His introduction provides a message equally as important as the text; understand the historian and his purpose.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dan Graves on June 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This an easy, accessible book that would interest the casual history buff. What the book lacks in precise argument, it makes up for in interesting examples and anecdotes. In many ways it is a collection of biographies. If this is how you like your history (understood through biographies), this book is for you. I'm not a professional historian, but even I found the arguments lacking in innovation at times, so I' wonder what an academic might think.
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