Sunday, March 21, 2010

Book news

Just a few odds and ends.

First, Gabrielle Burton's Impatient With Desire, a novel about Tamzene Donner, has been out for a couple of weeks now. It's a quick, enjoyable read and I'm glad to say that the reviews I've seen are positive.

Second, I've been reading Will Bagley's So Rugged and Mountainous, a history of the overland trails from 1812-1848, and it's great. For Donner Party fans, the general information about the overland experience -- background, wagons, draft animals, routes, and so on -- places the DP squarely in its historical context, and Will uses recently discovered and lesser known sources to impart freshness to his Donner coverage.

Third, the Alder Creek archaeology book (working title: The Archaeology of Desperation) is moving along. It's nearing (note I said nearing) the final stages of editing -- with over a dozen contributors and such a technical subject, these things take time -- and hopefully will go to press late this year.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Donner diversion in S.F.

Well, this looks, um, different... "
Bootie With the Donner Party" is part of the wild and wacky nightlife of San Francisco this weekend. "John! John! and the Wagonistas" are going to provide a history lesson via a "live stage show and DJ set" tonight at the DNA Lounge, 375 11th Street, at 9:00. I have no idea what this might be all about, so if anybody goes, please report back! And see if you can snag me a poster. Thx.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Great news, trail fans!

In a previous post I mentioned Will Bagley, whom I've been pestering for years with questions about the trails, Lansford W. Hastings, and western history in general. Will is known in Utah for his incisive writings on Mormon history, but more importantly (to me, anyway) he's also an authority on the overland trails. For years now he's been working on a mammoth 4-volume history of the western migration called Overland West: The Story of the Oregon and California Trails, published by the University of Oklahoma Press, and the first volume is coming out now. It covers the Donner Party era and should be of great interest to Donner aficionados, buffs, and diehard fanatics alike. While other historians have told parts of the tale, this is the first to tackle "the complete story of three decades of overland emigration or [present] such a compelling analysis of how “the Road across the Plains” became the engine that transformed the American West between 1840 and 1870."

The volumes in the series are:

1. So Rugged and Mountainous: Blazing the Trails to Oregon-California, 1812–1848.
2. With Golden Visions Bright Before Them: Trails and the Creation of the Mining West, 1849–1852. Coming in 2011.

3. To Begin the World Anew: Trails and the Transformation of the American West, 1853–1860.

4. The War for the Medicine Road: Trails and the Conquest of the American West, 1861–1912.

(Standard disclaimer: I have no financial interest in plugging these books.)

If you're in Utah, Will is having a reading and signing tonight at Ken Sanders Rare Books, 268 South 200 East, Salt Lake City, at 7:00.