It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile!
It's Monday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.
I've fallen behind and now I need to post about 6 books before the end of the year.
When you last left me---It was Nonfiction November--at least in my book blogging world. And while I joined in all the challenges and posts (it was a great fun-filled month), I didn't get a chance to finish this book until last night ( I read half and set it down when we had company and picked it up again a few days ago):
In the bestselling tradition of Bill Bryson and Tony Horwitz, Rinker Buck's "The Oregon Trail" is a major work of participatory history: an epic account of traveling the 2,000-mile length of the Oregon Trail the old-fashioned way, in a covered wagon with a team of mules--which hasn't been done in a century--that also tells the rich history of the trail, the people who made the migration, and its significance to the country.
Spanning 2,000 miles and traversing six states from Missouri to the Pacific Ocean, the Oregon Trail is the route that made America. In the fifteen years before the Civil War, when 400,000 pioneers used it to emigrate West--historians still regard this as the largest land migration of all time--the trail united the coasts, doubled the size of the country, and laid the groundwork for the railroads. The trail years also solidified the American character: our plucky determination in the face of adversity, our impetuous cycle of financial bubbles and busts, the fractious clash of ethnic populations competing for the same jobs and space. Today, amazingly, the trail is all but forgotten.
Rinker Buck is no stranger to grand adventures. "The New Yorker "described his first travel narrative, "Flight of Passage," as "a funny, cocky gem of a book," and with "The Oregon Trail "he seeks to bring the most important road in American history back to life. At once a majestic American journey, a significant work of history, and a personal saga reminiscent of bestsellers by Bill Bryson and Cheryl Strayed, the book tells the story of Buck's 2,000-mile expedition across the plains with tremendous humor and heart. He was accompanied by three cantankerous mules, his boisterous brother, Nick, and an "incurably filthy" Jack Russell terrier named Olive Oyl. Along the way, Buck dodges thunderstorms in Nebraska, chases his runaway mules across miles of Wyoming plains, scouts more than five hundred miles of nearly vanished trail on foot, crosses the Rockies, makes desperate fifty-mile forced marches for water, and repairs so many broken wheels and axels that he nearly reinvents the art of wagon travel itself. Apart from charting his own geographical and emotional adventure, Buck introduces readers to the evangelists, shysters, natives, trailblazers, and everyday dreamers who were among the first of the pioneers to make the journey west. With a rare narrative power, a refreshing candor about his own weakness and mistakes, and an extremely attractive obsession for history and travel, "The Oregon Trail" draws readers into the journey of a lifetime.
I loved this book.
Can I steal from my friend JoAnn at Lakeside Musing and just say it was an entertaining combination of history and adventure?
That pretty much says it all.
I would recommend this book without any reservation at all.
To be frank, I got very sentimental at the end of the book--that author ended his route at a place in Oregon that we pass a few times each year, and I never knew I was so close to history! I guess I just never thought about it---we don't pay much attention to what is in our own backyards.
The original wagon ruts are still there, near Baker City, Oregon. On our next trip thru, we are stopping and standing on part of the original Oregon Trail!
There was so much about this book that was 'sentimental' for me. I live in the west and this book was all about--heading that way!
My great-grandparents came out on a covered wagon and homesteaded in north-east Oregon---not far from Baker City.
When we were newly married we lived in Walla Walla, Washington, the home of the Whitman Mission--Narcissa Whitman was mentioned more than once in the book.
And the kindness and the generosity and hospitality of the western people mentioned by the author was very gracious.
So, yes, I did get sentimental at the end of the book.
Oh...and I have a crush on mules now.
Thanks JoAnn for reading the book and bringing it to my attention.