The Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail

A New American Journey

Book - 2015
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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, 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. At once an American journey, a work of history, and a personal saga, this book tells the story of Buck's 2,000-mile expedition across the plains. 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. -- Publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2015
ISBN: 9781451659160
Branch Call Number: 917.8 B9226o 2015
Characteristics: 450 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm


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mlnorris1 May 04, 2017

I loved this book for stories that involved Rinker and his brother and all the people they met on the trail. For me it was a bit too much history, and could have been 75-100 pages shorter.

Feb 21, 2017

While this is not the normal kind of book I read to learn more on the history of our country, it was a pleasant departure. Much of this book is about the personal experiences of Rinker and his brother, he sprinkled enough information on the endeavors of actual pioneers to retain my yearning for history. Also, nice to see the way that people who encountered them in their journey were kind and helpful. Good to hear that there are really still good people around!

Nov 08, 2016

As somehow who grew up and went to school in Oregon, the Oregon Trail loomed large. I also am old enough to remember and play the classic, green-tinged video game ("You have died of dysentery."). So I was eager to read jounralist Rinker Buck's book in which he and his brother recreate the journey, even down to taking a mule-driven covered wagon. It's a curious and not entirely successful mishmash of travelogue, history, memoir, and road trip. Buck's style is discursive and he takes frequent detours into his personal history (His father took them on trips in a covered wagons), the virtues of mules, and the minutiae of 19th century wagons. More often than not, I was bored, something exacerbated by the length of the book (over 400 pages). It's too bad because it's a good premise, and there is some interesting history interspersed thoughout. You might also like Terry Tempest Williams's trip through the National Parks, "The Hour of Land."

ArapahoeKati Oct 21, 2016

A hilarious, thoughtful, fact-filled, and sweary account of a man and his brother crossing the Oregon Trail. Dad approved!

ArapahoeAnna Aug 02, 2016

A quirky travelogue, Buck and his brother made the wagon journey on a hard board seat over 2000 miles of bumps pulled by a mule team. The part about cholera on the Platte River was an interesting bit of local history. Especially liked his descriptions of the mules: purchasing, personalities, training, harnessing, catching, driving, feeding, caring for, etc.

Jul 26, 2016

An interesting history lesson well told. It did drag a bit at times, so don't expect to stay up all night reading it.

PimaLib_StephanieM Jul 10, 2016

It was slow going for me but worthwhile to hang on. I enjoyed the balance he struck between his journey and that of the historic trail travelers. His grumpy old man perspective on RVs, religion and politics (historical and modern) was entertaining and balanced by his thorough research and self-deprecation. I was, however, thrown by his use of "brave" and "squaw" to refer to Native American men and women. He presents a fair, if brief, appraisal of the treatment native people received from settlers and the U.S. government which made the use of these arcane terms confusing. Perhaps he was going for irony and I missed it. In any case, do not let that stop you from reading this terrific book.

Jul 10, 2016

I loved reading this book. Although some parts were tedious at times they were easy to skim and get to the good "on the trail" parts. His research of pioneer diaries and graves along the trail and the history of why all these people would make this death defying journey would be the basis for a college level class that I would love to take.

Jul 02, 2016

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. That is all. Thanks.

Mar 08, 2016

Rinker Buck and his brother, Nick, decide to get through their mid-life crises by taking a team of mules and a covered wagon across the Oregon Trail. When they are joined by friends, who happen to be women, about halfway through this journey, they have surrendered to outdoor living, lack of cleaning facilities and time to the extent that the women feel it's in their best interests to shoo them out of the camp, so the women can clean it up enough that they won't feel their health is at risk. However, the amount of research Rinker Buck undertakes in preparation for the trip as well as while writing the book afterward, gives us details we would not have had the energy to find out ourselves. It is also an emotional and spiritual journey for both the brothers and strengthens them physically as well. The combination of history and personal experience makes a winning combination.

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Jul 15, 2016

mratzel thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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Jul 15, 2016

A wonderful figuring your life out while traveling along a historic trail, getting to enjoy the quirky brother and living an adventure that most only dream about.


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