May 2009 Indie Next List
“Daniel James Brown makes you feel as though you are there with the ill-fated members of the wagon train led by George Donner through the Sierra Nevada in 1846. A compulsive read.”
— Maryjude Hoeffel, Bookin' It, Little Falls, MN
From the #1 bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat comes an unforgettable epic of family, tragedy, and survival on the American frontier
An ideal pairing of talent and material. Engrossing. A deft and ambitious storyteller. Mary Roach, New York Times Book Review
In April of 1846, twenty-one-year-old Sarah Graves, intent on a better future, set out west from Illinois with her new husband, her parents, and eight siblings. Seven months later, after joining a party of pioneers led by George Donner, they reached the Sierra Nevada Mountains as the first heavy snows of the season closed the pass ahead of them. In early December, starving and desperate, Sarah and fourteen others set out for California on snowshoes, and, over the next thirty-two days, endured almost unfathomable hardships and horrors.
In this gripping narrative, New York Times bestselling author Daniel James Brown sheds new light on one of the most legendary events in American history. Following every painful footstep of Sarah's journey with the Donner Party, Brown produces a tale both spellbinding and richly informative.
“Brown draws from the many previously published accounts of the tragedy, letters from the party and those who knew them, accounts of life on the Oregon and California trails, genealogical databases, and his own travel along the trail…but he tells the tale with a novelist’s touch.”
“A compelling retelling of the ghastly events surrounding the Donner party. Daniel James Brown, using one survivor’s experience as his focus, moves beyond the cardboard figures depicted in previous accounts and shows how the lucky few endured and survived.”
-Irvin Molotsky, author of The Flag, The Poet and the Song: The Story of the Star-Spangled Banner
“In this gripping narrative, Brown reveals the extremes of endurance that underlie the history of this nation, and more than that, of humanity in any part of the world, even today, surviving great peril in search of a better life.”
“A skillful, suspenseful study of the Donner Party, narrated from the point of view of a newly married woman…Wading through the many previous accounts of the ill-fated journey, Brown creates a thorough and unique narrative. A moving man-against-nature tragedy that stillresonates today.”
“Daniel James Brown brings the myth to life, transforming faint history class memories into gripping reality.”