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The Oregon Trail

Francis Parkman Jr.

Book Overview: 

The book is a breezy, first-person account of a 2 month summer tour of the U.S. states of Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, and Kansas when Parkman was 23. (Summary by Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .There was some foundation for such an apprehension, for the ground was none of the best for a race, and grew worse continually as we proceeded; indeed it soon became desperately bad, consisting of abrupt hills and deep hollows, cut by frequent ravines not easy to pass. At length, a mile in advance, we saw a band of bulls. Some were scattered grazing over a green declivity, while the rest were crowded more densely together in the wide hollow below. Making a circuit to keep out of sight, we rode toward them until we ascended a hill within a furlong of them, beyond which nothing intervened that could possibly screen us from their view. We dismounted behind the ridge just out of sight, drew our saddle-girths, examined our pistols, and mounting again rode over the hill, and descended at a canter toward them, bending close to our horses' necks. Instantly they took the alarm; those on the hill descended; those below gathered into a mass, and the whole got in motion, shouldering . . . Read More

Community Reviews

I was disappointed in this book. I had highly anticipated reading this book for several years. I had the impression it was about a journey from Missouri to Oregon or California on the Oregon Trail.

The author only traveled perhaps half of the trail and did not comment or even mention the iconic land

The title of this narrative is somewhat ambiguous as in the author’s own words the primary goal of this account is to relay the life and customs of the plains Indians. One would imagine that the title would indicate that the author actually went to Oregon, which he didn’t. He undertook this westward

The Oregon Trail by Francis Parkman is the author's classic autobiographical account of the experiences of those adventurous travelers heading west to start a new life. Parkman was one of those who, along with his friend Quincy Shaw just out of Harvard, departed from St. Louis, Missouri, heading out

Very interesting, in an 1846 kind of way. I read it in college years ago.

In my little book reviews I’m always coming back to this idea of sympathetic imagination. Sympathetic imagination, for me, is the ability to put oneself in another person’s place, to imaginatively enter into someone else’s mind and perspective. Exercising sympathetic imagination means withholding ju

Parkman was not a great writer but did write what appears to be an accurate account of his experiences. I mistakenly thought he was traveling with a wagon train on the trail but this is not so. What disturbed me were the many blunders that occurred, and the wanton slaughter of so many animals, espec

"Pur-sioux-ing Exotica"

In the 1970s, British university graduates could take a year off and make their way across Europe, through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, overland to India. It was "breaking away", "a testing of self", "seeing the world", "the search for the other" or maybe just drugs

This surprised me in a number of ways. First, the author doesn’t make it much farther down the Oregon Trail than Wyoming due to ill health, running out of good weather, and an opportunity to do some travelling with an Indian band. Second, the writing holds up well. To me this read more modernly than

This is an illustrated true story by Francis Parkman, an American historian who takes you over the Oregon Trail breaking new frontier in the early American West. Parkman went on a 2,000 mile journey through the wilderness of the American West that would take him six months to reach the end of his tr

REREAD

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