Sunday, December 07, 2008

"Unsolved History" episode available

Five years ago, Termite Arts produced an episode about the Donner Party for the Discovery Channel program "Unsolved History" which aired on October 8, 2003. As I wrote at the time, it was "not a resounding success. Most correspondents thought it had a jarringly split personality. The first part featured reenactment experiments, the second the archaeological discoveries at Alder Creek. Both parts were interesting, but there was little continuity between the two and many found the emphasis on cannibalism in the second section sensationalistic and offensive."

Despite its flaws, however, the episode is a must-see for dedicated Donner buffs and several people have written me hoping to find a copy. It was briefly available for purchase at the Discovery Channel website, but hasn't been listed there for the last several years. Now you can buy a copy at for $14.95. Not a bad price, and just in time for your Christmas gift-giving... (Obligatory disclaimer: No, I have no financial interest in the sale of this item.)


BenJoe said...

Very Interesting Blog

I am a long time follower of the Donner Party. It all started for me when Grandfather gave me a book called Grim Journey it was a hands on account of the Donner Party from the eyes of William H. Eddy. I have never seen another copy of it, but it is a great book.

Kristin Johnson said...

Glad you like the blog. A lot of people got started down the Donner Trail by reading a book that made a big impression. Hoffman Birney's Grim Journey, published in 1934, is out of print, but you can find it for sale at used book websites like Abebooks ( Hope you find a copy!

BenJoe said...


I still have my original copy and read it often. How accurate would you say the book is?

Thanks again.

Kristin Johnson said...

Well, Grim Journey came out 75 years ago and we know a lot more about the Donner Party now, so it's not all that reliable. For instance, the itinerary is off, since it was published before the discovery of the Miller-Reed diary. It's a pretty good read, as I recall, but dated. Of course, I'm not real crazy about Donner Party fiction in general.