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The Utter Disaster on the Oregon Trail (Snake Country Series, Vol. 2) Paperback – January 1, 1993

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Snake Country
  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Snake Country Pub. - distributed by Caxton Press; First Edition edition (January 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0963582828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0963582829
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,164,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Mostly unknown by the general public and historians, the story of the ill-fated Utter and Van Ornum parties in 1860 ranks high on the list of most moving struggles of the westward-bound emigrants along the Oregon Trail. This story, inaccurately recorded until now, rates as a must-read by any afficianado of Oregon Trail history. Mr. Shannon spent several years researching this book, and the quality of that reasearch shines through on almost every page. The names of all the players in the tragedy are there. Details of every conceivable facet of the story is included. There are many very rare photos and drawings included, and well-drawn maps of each part of the tale grace the pages of this invaluable resource. The story itself is compelling beyond measaure. There is heroism, cowardice, death, destruction, and intrigue at every turn. If only the story of 13 year-old Emmeline Trimble and her 10 year-old brother Christopher were included in this book, I would still recommend it highly. This slim volume, however, is easily read in one sitting and yet covers the subject of the "massacre" completely. The writing is energetic and entirely factual. This is easily one of the best books on Oregon Trail matters written in the last ten years. I recommend it highly. Anyone interested in how the west was REALLY won and lost should consider Donald Shannon's book an absolute must-have.
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I grew up near the scenes in this book and I have received considerable information from local folks. I summarized the tragedy in a Malheur newsletter several years ago, but Don Shannon's book far exceeds my work. He has done a beautiful job of spicing his narrative with letters and quotes from survivors and pioneers of the time. Don's book is so moving I sort of wept at some passages. It has heroes, a particularly savage Indian group of renegades, and some blundering ordinary people. And it is all true!
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Shannon does a fine job of documenting the white mans version of the events that took place along the desolate plane of the Snake River in 1860. He draws heavily from newspaper and military reports of the times. The reports, sometimes conflicting or confusing, paint a compelling story of life, hardship and death along the Oregon Trail. It misses the mark a bit in not discussing the broader social/political stage upon which the drama was played. Otherwise, Shannon's book is an excellent reference for those interested in the drama of westward expansion.
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