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The Oregon Trail: Sketches of Prairie and Rocky-Mountain Life (1900) Paperback – Large Print, June 12, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 418 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Library (June 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003E7E4A8
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 8.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

The writing style is very good.
dawgfan
From here, Parkman and Shaw travel down the front range of Colorado to Pueblo, Bent's Fort and back to St. Louis via the Arkansas River.
William J. Higgins,III
If you are looking for vivid picture of life among the indians, buffaloes, and explorers, this IS the book for you!
K. Lange

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Terrence E. Martau on May 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
Before his death in the early 1890's, Francis Parkman would be hailed by many as North America's greatest historian. One of his first major works, The Oregon Trail, illustrates why. Written in 1847, the book chronicles an extensive journey by the youthful Parkman and his loyal friend Quincy Shaw the previous spring and summer. Parkman's express purpose was to see the "real" American West and live among "real" American Indians before their way of life passed forever. A vigorous young man, possessed of a keen intellect and observant eye, and already blessed with a rare and masterful prose style, Parkman chronicles his journey from St. Louis into the heart of the largely "unknown" American Plains. Peopled then by only a few white traders, trappers and ruffians, slowly pushing their way into the domain of the Pawnee, Comanche, Arapaho, Dakota, "Shienne", Snakes and Crows, the West was a truly wild and dangerous place - and Parkman revels in it, providing meticulous descriptions of the landscape, people, and struggle for life and lifeways that would soon be no more.
Along the way Parkman introduces you to the men of Fort Laramie (established and maintained by traders, long before soldiers came to the territory), lives amongst a Dakota band, hunts buffalo, weathers awe-inspiring Plains' thunderstorms and periods of drought, explores the Black Hills, the Rocky Mountains, and New Mexico. His journey takes him up the Missouri River, the Platte, the Arkansas and more.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 22, 1997
Format: Hardcover
As a young college student, Francis Parkman, the later noted historian of the early West, goes to the land of the Lakotas and experiences their life. This is a personal history of the travels of the author through the lands of the Lakota before the great American westward expansion. Tales of Indian life and their "wars" with each other. Also tells first hand of the author's maturation in this environment. Should be required reading for any "lover of the wild west" because "This Was The It Was".
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By e. vaughan on December 29, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There are a great many things about Native American life on the plains that I did not realize before reading this narrative. The level of warfare for instance. I wonder if this was heightend at that time related to population pressures from the east ( other tribes and whites ) Anyway, the writer tells an amazing tale of risk and daring while describing the lives of the natives- and we find out some things about the attitudes of the newcomers also. Keeps moving along-- no slow spots.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Wayne A. Smith VINE VOICE on March 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
Francis Parkman lived the Oregon Trail, slept it, ate it, marveled at it, and wrote an excellent memoir that leaves one with the feel of sand in your boots and the smell of buffalo roasting on the fire.
As a young man, Parkman went out west in 1846 to discover the American Indian. Setting out from Independence, Mo., Parkman proceeded to Ft. Larime (Wyoming), spent many weeks with a band of Indians as they hunted buffalo and secured life's necessities for the coming season, and returned to "the settlements" via Bent's Fort (Colorado) and the upper Santa Fe Trail. (Making this wonderful book misnamed since he was only on about the first 1/3 of the Oregon Trail and never crossed the Rockies).
What Parkman has left us is a wonderfully descriptive first person account of overland travel in the rugged west and the life of the Indian (as viewed by an outsider).
The strength of this book is in the details. Parkman has a keen eye whether it is turned towards imposing landscapes, Indian village life and travel, or buffalo hunting. This book has a gritty feel that paints the grandeur of western vistas as well as the hard reality of subsistence life (both Indian and white traveler) lived outdoors in a frequently unforgiving land.
Parkman's voice does have a 19th century feel. Modern readers will find he over-introduces new subjects (ie, "since, reader, we are telling of a buffalo hunt, now is a good time to acquaint you with the manner in which buffalo are brought to ground.") and the book does not have the flow associated with more contemporary writing. His attitudes towards Indians reflect the majority view of that time period and he was certainly at times a gratuitous hunter.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By S. McLeod on June 7, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very enjoyable! You can't beat a first person report of traveling through Indian territory! The descriptions of the perils of the journey plus first hand experiences in dealing with the native population make you feel as if you are there, sitting in the teepee, watching as an Indian woman kills and cooks a puppy because you are an honored guest. Great descriptive writing; blood, guts, wildflowers, horses, sunsets, and the beautiful, healthy forms of our Native Americans while they were still free.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin O. Simmons on May 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
Living at the main jumping-off point of the Oregon, Santa Fe and California Trails, and having traveled frequently throughout the great plains and Rocky Mountains, I thought this book would be a good read. I wasn't disappointed.
The book chronicles the author's trip along the Oregon Trail in the Spring and Summer of 1846. He begins by joining a group of fellow adventurers at Westport, Missouri, in present day Kansas City. Together they embark for Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. From there they head out to the plains, visiting Fort Laramie in Wyoming and the Black Hills of South Dakota. While in this general vicinity, the author joins a band of Indians and lives with them for a prolonged period, richly detailing the living conditions and customs of a Plains tribe at this time. He accompanies the tribe on a hunting trip to the Black Hills where he details this pristine area before the onrush of white encroachers after Custer's 1873 expedition.
The title of the book is somewhat misleading in that the author doesn't travel the entire Oregon Trail. In fact he only traverses about 1/3 of the trail, for he returns to Fort Laramie after his stay with the Indians where he regroups with his party before heading to Bent's Fort in Colorado. The country in between these two forts is vividly illustrated by his pen as is the fort itself upon his arrival.
At the fort his party is joined by a jester of sorts, a mentally ill volunteer soldier who had been left behind by his unit on their way to fight in the Mexican War which had begun just prior to the author's trip. He gives a colorful description of this man and his odd attributes during their return trip to civilization.
The party follows the Arkansas River through Kansas on their way back to Westport.
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