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The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party Kindle Edition
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Much of the book describes the early part of the trek before they reach the Sierra Nevada's. There are large groups of wagons heading westward and these various groups pass each other up again and again on the trail and often some join up with others, making the final composition of the families and individuals in a particular group a veritable crap-shoot by the time they begin to reach the mountains. When they must decide on how to proceed when the trail splits, a profiteering man urges them toward a short-cut toward Oregon even though he knows it is impassable for wagons. He, himself, does not stay with the group, but he has convinced them they should forget about California and head north to Oregon. The trail is brutal and back-breaking and snow comes early.
The party eventually separates into three separate camps in close proximity to one another and attempt to hunker down until the weather improves. But, it doesn't. Several men go on alone in search of a waystop where help can be found. Eventually many rescue parties travel back to the camps and take out as many people who can walk (mostly children at times) as they can. This is done over and over, all the while, the circumstances of the survivors growing more dire as they wait. Interestingly, the women, in general, fared better than the men. Being smaller framed, they didn't require the same calorie intake.
Brown's writing is compelling and beautiful. Sarah and two sisters are all that is left of her large family. When all survivors are delivered to safety, he tells us what became of all of them, detailing their lives, subsequent families, etc. There are also many photographs of Sarah's family and others who accompanied them.
This is a page turner and I highly recommend.
Great book, heartwarming, detailed story telling and proves that women in those days were tough and hardy pioneers.
I’ll never forget this story...it’s just too heartbreaking and also hopeful not leave behind in my thoughts