The Best Land Under Heaven: The Donner Party in the Age of Manifest Destiny

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Product Details

$27.95  $25.99
Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publish Date
6.1 X 1.6 X 9.3 inches | 1.85 pounds

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About the Author

Michael Wallis is the award-winning author of fourteen books, including Route 66: The Mother Road and Pretty Boy: The Life and Times of Charles Arthur Floyd. He lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


You cannot understand the settlement of the American West without understanding the facts and--tellingly--the myths of the tragic Donner Party of 1846. Michael Wallis has done a superb job sifting through the grumblings, resentments, and fatal delays of the wagon train that came to symbolize both the folly and grit of our westward expansion. Once I started, I could not put this account down.--Rinker Buck, best-selling author of The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey and Flight of Passage
Mr. Wallis has succeeded for the first time in compiling all available pertinent historical facts into this book. It is a must-have for everyone wanting the true story of the most epic saga of survival during the westward movement.--William A. "Bill" Springer, Great grandson of Captain George Donner and the Curator of the Donner-Springer Family Collection
Adopting an empathetic approach bolstered by studious research and geographical contextualization, biographer Wallis reclaims the horrific story of the infamously ill-fated wagon train from the annals of sensationalism...The Donner Party's struggles and determination continues to fascinate, and Wallis's comprehensive account of bravery, luck, and failure illuminates the realities of westward expansion.
Michael Wallis takes readers on an adventure full of excitement, intrigue and harrowing results. . . Referencing myriad documents and histories, Wallis presents a well-written and interesting account of this terrible tragedy.--Mike Whitmer
If you want the full, unvarnished, exceptionally researched and documented, day-by-day description of what happened, look no further . . . [Wallis] provides a study of the times and circumstances and pioneer mindset that it took for farmers and businessmen to decide to sell off their property, pack up their families and set off in search of something better beyond the next hill, over the horizon, past where the sun was last seen setting. . . . Fascinating, and horrifying, and inspiring.--Glen Seeber
[An] engaging account of the doomed journey . . . . Mr. Wallis tells the story well and paints interesting portraits of the characters.--David A. Price
Wallis has delved into an extraordinary mass of original material, documents, diaries, accounts and letters, as well as new sources apparently not available to previous authors, and produced not only a definitive account of the Donner tragedy, but also a book so gripping it can scarcely be put down. . . . Wallis has done a superb job sifting through lurid tabloid moralizing and unreliable accounts to explore the complex truths of human beings pushed to the absolute limits of existence.--Douglas Preston
Wallis offers a vivid new look at the ill-fated Donner Party . . . . Wallis's use of primary sources, together with his dynamic writing style, turns a familiar retelling into a real page-turner. A welcome addition to all history collections.--Patricia Ann Owens
An even-handed, briskly written history of the party, destined to become the standard account of this horrid chapter of American history.--Timothy R. Smith