Francis Jr Parkman

The California and Oregon Trail : Being Sketches of Prairie and Rocky Mountain Life

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The firsthand account of a personal journey through Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, and Kansas in the 1840s, this classic work of American adventure is not only an excellent resource for eyewitness observations of Native American culture in the mid 19th century but also an essential document of the cultural attitudes and prejudices of Eastern European-descended Americans of the era. Criticized by contemporary reviewers, including Herman Melville, as demeaning to Indians, Parkman's tale nevertheless remains a fascinating and entertaining read. Originally serialized in Knickerbocker's Magazine and first published in book form in 1849, this replica edition returns to print a previously hard-to-find work of American history. American horticulturist and historian FRANCIS PARKMAN (1823-1893) helped found the Archaeological Institute of America. He is the author of The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century and the eight-volume France and England in North America, both considered among the great masterpieces of historical literature.


Book Format
Original Languages
Number of Pages
Francis Jr Parkman
The California and Oregon Trail
Publication Date
September, 2007
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
7.99 x 5.00 x 0.73 Inches

Customer Reviews

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Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

Written in 1847, this ...

Written in 1847, this is an eye witness account of the prairie and the natives who lived there. Unlike our romantic view of native life, this is somewhat disdainful, and yet he admires them in a way too. It's hard to swallow the wanton killing of buffalo and other animals, yet this shows the prevailing attitude of the time, right or wrong. Quite an interesting book.

Average Rating:(3.0)out of 5 stars

This narrative describ...

This narrative describes 23-year-old Parkman's travels west in with fellow Boston Brahmin Quincy Adams Shaw. Together they travel with settlers adventurers through the future states of of Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, and Kansas (the title is a misnomer as they never go to Oregon), and spend three weeks hunting buffalo with the Ogala Sioux. It's a well-written narrative that captures the flora and fauna of the prairies, the lives of settlers, soldiers, and Native Americans, and the uncertainty of so much change happening in the region at one time. Unfortunately, the huge problem is that Parkman is deeply prejudice against the native peoples, which yes is a characteristic of the time, but there were more sympathetic contemporary white American writers of the time as well. Parkman also is dismissive of a number of white settlers he encounters. I kind of imagine that Parkman and Shaw were like Charles Emerson Winchester haughtily looking down on those around them. So, yes, this is a terrific descriptive narrative, but there are a lot of aspects that will be hard to stomach for modern readers.

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