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Dreams of El Dorado: A History of the American West

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"Epic in its scale, fearless in its scope" (Hampton Sides), this balanced, authoritative, and masterfully told account of the American West from a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist sets a new standard as it sweeps from the California Gold Rush to the Texas Revolution and beyond. In Dreams of El Dorado, H. W. Brands tells the thrilling, panoramic story of the settling of the "Epic in its scale, fearless in its scope" (Hampton Sides), this balanced, authoritative, and masterfully told account of the American West from a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist sets a new standard as it sweeps from the California Gold Rush to the Texas Revolution and beyond. In Dreams of El Dorado, H. W. Brands tells the thrilling, panoramic story of the settling of the American West. He takes us from John Jacob Astor's fur trading outpost in Oregon to the Texas Revolution, from the California gold rush to the Oklahoma land rush. He shows how the migrants' dreams drove them to feats of courage and perseverance that put their stay-at-home cousins to shame-and how those same dreams also drove them to outrageous acts of violence against indigenous peoples and one another. The West was where riches would reward the miner's persistence, the cattleman's courage, the railroad man's enterprise; but El Dorado was at least as elusive in the West as it ever was in the East. Balanced, authoritative, and masterfully told, Dreams of El Dorado sets a new standard for histories of the American West.


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"Epic in its scale, fearless in its scope" (Hampton Sides), this balanced, authoritative, and masterfully told account of the American West from a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist sets a new standard as it sweeps from the California Gold Rush to the Texas Revolution and beyond. In Dreams of El Dorado, H. W. Brands tells the thrilling, panoramic story of the settling of the "Epic in its scale, fearless in its scope" (Hampton Sides), this balanced, authoritative, and masterfully told account of the American West from a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist sets a new standard as it sweeps from the California Gold Rush to the Texas Revolution and beyond. In Dreams of El Dorado, H. W. Brands tells the thrilling, panoramic story of the settling of the American West. He takes us from John Jacob Astor's fur trading outpost in Oregon to the Texas Revolution, from the California gold rush to the Oklahoma land rush. He shows how the migrants' dreams drove them to feats of courage and perseverance that put their stay-at-home cousins to shame-and how those same dreams also drove them to outrageous acts of violence against indigenous peoples and one another. The West was where riches would reward the miner's persistence, the cattleman's courage, the railroad man's enterprise; but El Dorado was at least as elusive in the West as it ever was in the East. Balanced, authoritative, and masterfully told, Dreams of El Dorado sets a new standard for histories of the American West.

30 review for Dreams of El Dorado: A History of the American West

  1. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    WSJ review: https://www.wsj.com/articles/dreams-o... (Paywalled. As always, I'm happy to email a copy to non-subscribers) Excerpts: ". . .Lewis and Clark’s 28-month, 8,000-mile journey from St. Louis to Oregon and back not only represented an amazing feat of courage and endurance but established the precedent for federal sponsorship of exploration and scientific discovery that we still adhere to today. And despite the excitement and national pride that the expedition elicited, he reminds us that WSJ review: https://www.wsj.com/articles/dreams-o... (Paywalled. As always, I'm happy to email a copy to non-subscribers) Excerpts: ". . .Lewis and Clark’s 28-month, 8,000-mile journey from St. Louis to Oregon and back not only represented an amazing feat of courage and endurance but established the precedent for federal sponsorship of exploration and scientific discovery that we still adhere to today. And despite the excitement and national pride that the expedition elicited, he reminds us that it was also something of a letdown. In dispatching the Corps of Discovery, Jefferson was hoping to find a navigable route to the West Coast, to open trade with the Indians and to plant the American flag in Oregon, which was also claimed by Great Britain. But after learning of those cataracts on the Missouri and Columbia, the president reluctantly concluded the Far West might be too remote ever to join the United States, and he believed it was more likely to become an independent republic. And so, Mr. Brands writes, “the disappointments attached to the Lewis and Clark expedition set the pattern for many disappointments to follow. Time and again Americans would project their dreams onto the West and be disappointed. . . .” ". . . Mr. Brands takes pleasure in explaining how things work and has studded the book with illuminating asides. He describes the lifeways of the beaver and the annual cycle of a fur trapper. He catalogs the daily routine of a wagon train. He shows how the quintessentially western industries of gold mining, cattle-raising and farming outgrew their small-scale origins and soon became as industrialized as the manufacturing done at factories back east. He explains how the introduction of the horse fundamentally changed Native American culture and how the tribes’ decentralized governance sometimes increased the likelihood of violence in the face of white encroachment. This isn’t a book of white hats and black hats. Neither does Mr. Brands shy away from the less heroic episodes of western history. From the beginning, he reminds us, the region was a chaotic, dangerous place. In fact, he considers violence, “humans killing one another in the struggle for control of Western resources,” as “the defining characteristic of the West.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    David

    I received a copy of this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway. H.W. Brands' new book is an ambitious one: the story of the American west, both the history and the myth. Beginning with John Jacob Astor and the fur trade, stopping along to tell of revolutions in Texas, missionaries in Oregon, gold and land rushes in multiple territories, Mormons and ranchers, railroad expansion and native tribe decimation, Dreams Of El Dorado is a fascinating study in the history of how the American frontier was I received a copy of this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway. H.W. Brands' new book is an ambitious one: the story of the American west, both the history and the myth. Beginning with John Jacob Astor and the fur trade, stopping along to tell of revolutions in Texas, missionaries in Oregon, gold and land rushes in multiple territories, Mormons and ranchers, railroad expansion and native tribe decimation, Dreams Of El Dorado is a fascinating study in the history of how the American frontier was transformed. The writing is balanced, in that Brands does not shy away from telling of the terrible toll native peoples paid while also describing the courage and grit of the settlers. Additionally, Brands tackles to a certain degree the myth of the American west; particularly interesting to me is how the "rugged individualism" that to this day is so associated with the American West developed in a area that owes much of it's existence to the Federal government, its interventions and its army. He also explores the way the Western experience helped Teddy Roosevelt create his own myth, one that helped propel him from the son of Eastern wealth to America's first Western President. A very readable, informative and entertaining book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This will make a great research tool for those looking to understand some of the history of events like the Gold Rush of 1849 or the Indian Wars. Sadly, there are connections missing between events and it feels as though the author isn't making a coherent argument or telling a full story. That's not to say the individual chapters/vignettes aren't well told, just that there seems to be more here that is needed for a real understanding of how the American West evolved. ARC provided by publisher.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Glen

    I won this book in a goodreads drawing. A popular history consisting of various histories of chapters of the American West. Most are pretty interesting and entertaining.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mark Jochim

    An excellent introduction to the vastness that is the American West, a region that holds perhaps the most turbulent portions of the Union's relatively brief history. Having been born in Texas and spending significant portions of my life resident in Kansas and New Mexico, I have long held a fascination with all things Western. I grew up on the novels of Louis L'Amour and Tony Hillerman and tend to pick up fictional works by other authors solely based on their settings within the region. However, An excellent introduction to the vastness that is the American West, a region that holds perhaps the most turbulent portions of the Union's relatively brief history. Having been born in Texas and spending significant portions of my life resident in Kansas and New Mexico, I have long held a fascination with all things Western. I grew up on the novels of Louis L'Amour and Tony Hillerman and tend to pick up fictional works by other authors solely based on their settings within the region. However, aside from devouring Hampton Sides' excellent Blood and Thunder more than a decade ago, I had never read an historical account of the West. Until now.... Dreams of El Dorado by H. W. Brands covers the entire scope of that vast area beyond the Mississippi starting with the Corps of Discovery in the early nineteenth century and ending with our most "Western" of U. S. Presidents -- Theodore Roosevelt -- entering that office early in the twentieth century. Along the way, very few trails leading towards the Pacific are left untrod. Numerous topics in Western history are introduced and detailed within a few short chapters each. These serve to whet the appetite to learn more. This volume has added more items to my TBR list than any single book has in recent memory. Indeed, some of those were written by H. W. Brands himself while I am intrigued enough to start reading the original Journals of Lewis and Clark and the account of John Wesley Harding's exploration of the Grand Canyon to name but two. The best history books lead to further exploration and this one is particularly rich in that regard. There are some notable exclusions, however. I would like to have seen the Pony Express, Wells Fargo and the Butterfield Overland stage routes included not to mention more on the Western theatres of the Civil War (such as the Battle of Glorieta Pass) and New Mexican exploits by the likes of Kit Carson, Stephen Kearny and Narbona but those are minor knitpicks. What was included was often written in a style akin to the best page-turners by the fiction writers mentioned above. I highly recommend Dreams of El Dorado as an excellent one-volume introduction to the history of the West.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Socraticgadfly

    Five stars for Texas and slavery items alone On the former part of my headline, making it much more clear than Stephen Harrigan's overrated "Big Wonderful Thing," Brands notes clearly that the Republic of Texas had no way to survive without being part of the USofA, today's gummint-hating Texans aside, and that Sam Houston knew that in 1836, and that's why he led the army off into what triggered the Runaway Scrape. In what Herrington, IIRC, didn't even mention, Brands notes the Louisiana-Texas Five stars for Texas and slavery items alone On the former part of my headline, making it much more clear than Stephen Harrigan's overrated "Big Wonderful Thing," Brands notes clearly that the Republic of Texas had no way to survive without being part of the USofA, today's gummint-hating Texans aside, and that Sam Houston knew that in 1836, and that's why he led the army off into what triggered the Runaway Scrape. In what Herrington, IIRC, didn't even mention, Brands notes the Louisiana-Texas boundary was disputed in 1836, and that Houston planned to lure Santa Anna into the Neches-Sabine borderlands and then, with President Jackson's tacit approval, get U.S. troops from Louisiana involved. Sound familiar? As Brands notes later, that's basically (minus fleeing Texians) what Jackson disciple "Young Hickory" Polk did to launch the Mexican War when Mexico wouldn't sell him California. This I knew, but seeing Brands lay it all out was good. == The main thing I didn't know? That Southern demands for "positive protection" of slavery started in the 1840s, and specifically over Oregon. He notes that when Missouri Sen. Thomas Hart Benton was trying to push forward passage of a bill to make Oregon an organized territory with territorial government, nearly a full decade before Charles Sumner called this man out on the Senate floor, South Carolina Sen. Andrew Butler nearly came to blows with Benton over positive protection for Oregon Territory. Although Brands doesn't mention it, because it wasn't connected to the West (well, it was connected to "Bleeding Kansas"), this puts Sumner's attack on Butler in a whole new light. I never even read this in any of James Loewen's books. I did find it interesting that Brands spent so much time on Marcus and Narcissa Whitman. But I eventually realized that tied to the title; for them, missionizing Indians was their El Dorado.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sherri

    5++++++ I’m a huge western history buff, and have road-tripped all over the west, stopping at every historical place and reading pretty much every roadside sign I come across. Most of the stories told here were familiar to me, and I could visualize nearly all of the settings including rivers, mountains, and roads. What this book did for me was to provide the connective tissue between the stories and weave them all into one narrative about the development of what we know as the American West. 5++++++ I’m a huge western history buff, and have road-tripped all over the west, stopping at every historical place and reading pretty much every roadside sign I come across. Most of the stories told here were familiar to me, and I could visualize nearly all of the settings including rivers, mountains, and roads. What this book did for me was to provide the connective tissue between the stories and weave them all into one narrative about the development of what we know as the American West. Stories are told from multiple perspectives and they expunge any idea of good guys vs. bad guys, white hats vs black hats. I wish every American would take the time to read this.

  8. 5 out of 5

    RWBresearch

    Most of what I have known of the history of the American West up through the 19th and early twentieth centuries has been derived from films and tourism (and even a few computer games like The Oregon Trail). So I wanted to learn more. This book taught me a lot about the realities underlying the myths of the West: it covers everything from the Louisiana Purchase and other federal expansion moves to the real lives of cowboys. The background on the Gold Rush was particularly compelling for me, since Most of what I have known of the history of the American West up through the 19th and early twentieth centuries has been derived from films and tourism (and even a few computer games like The Oregon Trail). So I wanted to learn more. This book taught me a lot about the realities underlying the myths of the West: it covers everything from the Louisiana Purchase and other federal expansion moves to the real lives of cowboys. The background on the Gold Rush was particularly compelling for me, since we had visited that area last summer. The author is a good storyteller: much of it reads like a gripping adventure tale. (I actually read it on my Kindle of course.)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen

    Dreams of El Dorado is a story of the western expansion examined through the lens of histories, interviews and writings of the various periods and locales. What I liked about the book was the fact that I had either lived in the various areas of Texas and California, or visited them. Fortunately when I was in school, history was a well-taught subject. Mr. Brands tries to give an even handed treatment to his subject. I received the paperback book through a goodreads giveaway.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    A good overview of the development of the western half of the US. Read this book not for the well told history, but for Brand's interpretations of the same .

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anne Morgan

    A well-researched and fascinating look at the American West- not as a geographic location but as an experience and mind-set. From Lewis and Clark to Roosevelt, trappers to cowboys, Oregon to Oklahoma, "Dreams of El Dorado" explores the changing aspects and cultures of the Western experience. Reading this, you get a feel for the physical and psychological expanse Americans thought of when they looked west, the endless possibilities and opportunities that could come along with the necessary hard A well-researched and fascinating look at the American West- not as a geographic location but as an experience and mind-set. From Lewis and Clark to Roosevelt, trappers to cowboys, Oregon to Oklahoma, "Dreams of El Dorado" explores the changing aspects and cultures of the Western experience. Reading this, you get a feel for the physical and psychological expanse Americans thought of when they looked west, the endless possibilities and opportunities that could come along with the necessary hard work and hard travel needed to make a life in the West happen. Brands looks at the positive but also the negative, not flinching from the brutal treatment of Native Americans along the way. Well written, well-researched, well paced, "El Dorado" is a perfect overview of the American West for those interested in learning more about a unique time and place in American history.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    A great book about the history of the American West. This book packs information of explorers, cowboys, to the gold rush in California to the Texas Revolution. If you enjoy reading about the history of the American West, I highly recommend this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Hodgkins

    After coming to love historical novels, I discovered a large gap in my knowledge of the development of the United States. The historical fiction series The Daughters of the Mayflower began the journey raising so many interesting questions and giving me a snapshot of what really transpired at the close of each novel. Dreams of El Dorado by H.W. Brands is the continuation of that journey for me and it’s been a great education! “Any work of history must have a beginning and an end. This one After coming to love historical novels, I discovered a large gap in my knowledge of the development of the United States. The historical fiction series The Daughters of the Mayflower began the journey raising so many interesting questions and giving me a snapshot of what really transpired at the close of each novel. Dreams of El Dorado by H.W. Brands is the continuation of that journey for me and it’s been a great education! “Any work of history must have a beginning and an end. This one commences with the Louisiana Purchase at the start of the nineteenth century, when the United States first gained a foothold—a very large one—beyond the Mississippi. It ends in the early twentieth century, when the West had become enough like the East to make the Western experience most comprehensible as a piece of the American whole rather than as a place apart. Western dreams didn’t die; Hollywood and Silicon Valley would be built on such dreams. But the dreams were no longer as distinctively Western as they once had been.” - Dreams of El Dorado by H.W. Brands And this book does exactly that! Brutally honest (I read with my eyes closed over some of the carnage left by the wars fought during this period), the author doesn’t flinch from sharing what took place during this land-grabbing mania. I knew anecdotally what happened in major movements such as the Californian Gold Rush but, without context, it didn’t have any meaning to me. Walking through this history, the sequence of events which lead to the end of the “wild” west, was fascinating and tragic! “The destruction of the Tonquin dealt a heavy blow to the Astor project; it also revealed the simple but ineluctable theme of violence in the history of the American West: of humans killing one another in the struggle for control of Western resources. As time would prove, violence would be the defining characteristic of the West. When the violence diminished to the background level of the rest of the country, the West would no longer be the West but simply another part of America.” - Dreams of El Dorado by H.W. Brands Living in South Africa, land claims is a sensitive subject and I found it interesting to reflect on how land was handled just a century and a half earlier in the Americas! I had no idea the Mexicans and Spanish were in Texas so late into the 1800s nor how the Chinese were essential to the building of the railroad nor the way cowboys calmed thousands of longhorn cattle by circling them as they crossed the plains…All these nuggets of fascinating happenings! This book is jam-packed full of them and yet the narrative thread is so strong, it pulls the reader through intrigued to know how the politics will unfurl! In fairness, this may partly be due to my ignorance and those more familiar with the history may find it less astonishing but the reviews I’ve read suggest H.W. Brands really has written something quite exceptional! If history interests you, this is one to pick up and relish! Whilst I flew towards the end, I was relieved to be reaching the end of this bloody period of time, I was sad to see the end of this book and I’ll be looking for more form H.W. Brands! Carefully researched, beautifully compiled and compellingly written, I highly recommend it! It’s a five out of five on the en-JOY-ment scale.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ted Hunt

    This book is designed to provide a overarching history of the American West, a difficult task to accomplish in a single book, even one of 500+ pages. But the key to the success of the book is provided in its subtitle: "A" history of the American West, not "The" history of the American West. Thus the reader is prepared for what a book like this, out of necessity, must be: a personal take on what constitutes the essential themes, events, and people of the west. The author has spent most of his This book is designed to provide a overarching history of the American West, a difficult task to accomplish in a single book, even one of 500+ pages. But the key to the success of the book is provided in its subtitle: "A" history of the American West, not "The" history of the American West. Thus the reader is prepared for what a book like this, out of necessity, must be: a personal take on what constitutes the essential themes, events, and people of the west. The author has spent most of his professional career as an educator in Texas, so that state, not surprisingly, figures prominently in his narrative. While most of the stories that he conveys would be familiar to most readers already, there are some individuals who might be rated as heretofore "obscure" figures: beaver trapper Joe Meek, for one, and Christian missionary Marcus Whitman, for another (I am familiar with Whitman only because I live in upstate New York and the team I coach plays agains Marcus Whitman High School). While there were individuals whose stories might have been told more completely in the narrative (Quanah Parker and Wyatt Earp, for instance), I understand that the book could not be all things for all readers. My biggest complaint was that it did not provide more details about the Lewis and Clark expedition, which, as Jefferson intended, really began the process of westward expansion. But that is a small complaint for an otherwise very interesting and enjoyable book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This sweeping history was extremely engaging and readable. For a book so long, it kept my attention the entire time. And I will forever be grateful that this book put some events from American history into their context, particularly the Alamo and the Battle of Little Bighorn. Those were events I never learned about, and had never taken the time to figure out where and how they fit (even though I visited the Alamo last summer!). Though I enjoyed the book, and though I didn't know much of the This sweeping history was extremely engaging and readable. For a book so long, it kept my attention the entire time. And I will forever be grateful that this book put some events from American history into their context, particularly the Alamo and the Battle of Little Bighorn. Those were events I never learned about, and had never taken the time to figure out where and how they fit (even though I visited the Alamo last summer!). Though I enjoyed the book, and though I didn't know much of the history, there was one story of westward expansion that I know a lot about, and in Brands' treatment of that event, I saw that he seemed to pick the most lurid parts of that history to include in his book. That made me wonder how complete the treatments of other peoples and events were. And I couldn't help but grieve at the history of the native peoples of this land, and how those injustices have never been rectified. It was so distressing and made me realize I need to give more time to learning about that population. One of my next reads will be The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee (at Barack Obama's suggestion).

  16. 5 out of 5

    John

    Brand's work is a great introduction to American Western history for the general reader. The book is arranged in thematic parts, with individual chapters acting as vignetts to tell the story. Brand identifies a number of themes that run through the West: the evoking and shattering of dreams, violence against the Plains indians, and Irony as well. Especially important is his ability to draw aside the curtain on the individualistic West and notes how vital Federal support for the west was. Whether Brand's work is a great introduction to American Western history for the general reader. The book is arranged in thematic parts, with individual chapters acting as vignetts to tell the story. Brand identifies a number of themes that run through the West: the evoking and shattering of dreams, violence against the Plains indians, and Irony as well. Especially important is his ability to draw aside the curtain on the individualistic West and notes how vital Federal support for the west was. Whether it was the Homestead Act, railroad land grants, or military power, Brands is correct to note that "federal power was essential to the development of the West. The book covers the period from the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the closing of the Frontier in the early twentieth century. The book is well written, and an enjoyable read. Specialists will probably not find much new here, but this is a great starting point for those who have an interest in the subject.

  17. 5 out of 5

    RMazin

    Dreams of El Dorado takes the reader on a journey into the settling of the West from its early frontier days through the establishment of the Western National Parks. Brands frames his book by not only introducing personalities but also issues that drove western settlement. He focuses on the quest for independence, economic reasons, religious freedom, health, scientific curiosity and a new start. Clashes between different ethnic groups and political factions are also portrayed. Reading this book Dreams of El Dorado takes the reader on a journey into the settling of the West from its early frontier days through the establishment of the Western National Parks. Brands frames his book by not only introducing personalities but also issues that drove western settlement. He focuses on the quest for independence, economic reasons, religious freedom, health, scientific curiosity and a new start. Clashes between different ethnic groups and political factions are also portrayed. Reading this book is like investigating the fabric of a patchwork quilt. Each chapter (a patchwork square) has something to offer, a new insight, a new connection, a way of seeing what you thought you understood. Taken together the book seamlessly introduces the West as an iconic American experience, sometimes seen now as both real and mythical. Highly recommended. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this title.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Angelozzi

    I have read other books by H.W. Brands in the past and overall, I enjoy his writing style. Dreams of El Dorado tells the story of the American West starting with the Louisiana Purchase and ending with the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. The book is quite long, but it is a relatively easy read because of the short chapters and numerous topics handled. Dreams of El Dorado is popular history at its best. The prose is succinct and the narrative moves the story along. You get a little sampling of I have read other books by H.W. Brands in the past and overall, I enjoy his writing style. Dreams of El Dorado tells the story of the American West starting with the Louisiana Purchase and ending with the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. The book is quite long, but it is a relatively easy read because of the short chapters and numerous topics handled. Dreams of El Dorado is popular history at its best. The prose is succinct and the narrative moves the story along. You get a little sampling of every major incident involved in the history of the west, but the overall theme does not get lost in the details. I enjoyed the book very much and the insights from Brands were effective.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    This was a great read. The author pulls off the difficult task of writing a history of the American West from Lewis and Clark to Wounded Knee that gives the reader a sense of the larger trends, foreign and domestic, that impacted the region while including lots of first person narrative. It reads like the best historical fiction without sacrificing scholarship. I recommend this book highly.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Rather fascinating. I enjoyed the prologue especially as I enjoy learning about Theodore Roosevelt. Delving deeper into the history of the west was nice as school only takes you so far, especially when it's not something one continues on. I would highly recommend those who have a passion for history, learning, the west, cowboys, presidents, and reading in general.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anthony J Bridges

    Sound History The author covers familiar territory in a chronological manner. The book is well written and flows at an easy pace. While there are no surprises the subject is clearly covered to a good level of detail.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    This book seemed like a good thing. It gave some of the history of the America West. It just jumped around too much for me. I received this book from Goodreads and was under no obligation to leave a reveiw.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jason Sands

    Highly readable overview This book is a highly readable overview of the settlement of the American West. It’s quite balanced and I learned a few things so overall it was a great reading experience.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Pilz

    At times a quite granular, but the history of the west is interesting for me living there. The book explains some of the cultural heritage which makes the American west and provides a lot of background trivia for people like me, who moved here and never learned this stuff in school.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kay Mcleer

    I love westerns and nonfiction, so when this came up for review I was very excited. I'm glad I was able to check this out as I really enjoyed reading it. It was well-researched and well written, you could tell the author enjoyed the topic.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Niz

    Most excellent survey of the rich and diverse story of the western settlement. Engaging story teller.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mel Travis

    Interesting, well written book about the European settlement of the American West from the Lewis and Clark expedition onward. Interesting stories, well told.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jack Gillic

    Enjoyable overview of America’s westward expansion. There is a high degree of overlap with one of Brands’ previous works: ‘American Colossus’. Both are very much worth your time.

  29. 4 out of 5

    David

    A sweeping and ambitious history of the development of the western US. Brands begins with the fur trappers of the northern Rockies and the Lewis and Clark expedition and goes all the way to Teddy Rosevelt and the establishment of national parks. He covers the settlement of Texas and its war for independence from Mexico, the Indian wars, the gold rush, the building of the railroad, the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails, the cattle drives and everything in between. Entire books have been written on each A sweeping and ambitious history of the development of the western US. Brands begins with the fur trappers of the northern Rockies and the Lewis and Clark expedition and goes all the way to Teddy Rosevelt and the establishment of national parks. He covers the settlement of Texas and its war for independence from Mexico, the Indian wars, the gold rush, the building of the railroad, the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails, the cattle drives and everything in between. Entire books have been written on each of these topics, but Brand does a good job of giving the highlights and keeping the book interesting. At times the book slows into rite history, but for the most part he tells the story through personal narratives. Once I got into the book I couldn’t put it down. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a prepublication copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    David

    Solid one-volume history of the American West...nothing new here but a good entry. Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars.

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