Reviews for The Oregon Trail : an American journey

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Award-winning journalist and author Buck (Flight of Passage) has ostensibly written a book about his experiences retrekking the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail from St. Joseph, MO, to Baker City, OR, in a mule-drawn covered wagon with his brother Nick and Nick's dog Olive Oyl. As romantic as the adventure sounds, this is not a casual summer endeavour-don't try to imitate it. There's a second, parallel story, a description of another covered wagon trip he took at age seven in 1958 with his father and siblings. The family set out from central Jersey across the Delaware River to south central Pennsylvania for a monthlong "see America slowly" expedition. This adventure, tamer than the Oregon one, is now as much a part of Buck as his DNA. The Oregon trip is fraught with mishaps, near-death experiences, and plain bad luck. But there were also angels along the way helping them get through and guiding Jake and the other two mules. The parallel story is, at times, more compelling than the contemporary one, and the book could have been cut by a quarter and still be a solid read. It shouldn't take longer to read the book than to actually cross the Oregon Trail. VERDICT Recommended for folk interested in the Oregon Trail, pioneer history, or mules. [See Prepub Alert, 2/23/15.]-Lee Arnold, Historical Soc. of -Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Despite growing up on the East Coast, Buck's (Flight of Passage) fondest childhood memories are of going on family trips with his eccentric father, who insisted on "seeing America slowly" by traveling and camping out in a covered wagon. These trips ignited a lust for travel and history that stuck with Buck, and that came roaring back when he found out that the Oregon Trail is meticulously preserved and traversable. Buck and his foul-mouthed handyman brother, Nick, set out to follow the 2,000-mile path, with only a covered wagon and mule team as their mode of transportation. The ensuing tale combines the brothers' personal narrative with the remarkable history of the trail, including written accounts from the pioneers who braved it. What could have been a set of rote diary entries is anything but, as Buck's enthusiasm for the often arduous trip, coupled with his honest assessment of poor judgments and mistakes along the way, makes for an entertaining and enlightening account of one of America's most legendary migrations. Even readers who don't know a horse from a mule will find themselves swept up in this inspiring and masterful tale of perseverance and the pioneer spirit. Illus. Agent: Sloan Harris, ICM. (July) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Award-winning journalist and author Buck (Flight of Passage) has ostensibly written a book about his experiences retrekking the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail from St. Joseph, MO, to Baker City, OR, in a mule-drawn covered wagon with his brother Nick and Nick's dog Olive Oyl. As romantic as the adventure sounds, this is not a casual summer endeavour-don't try to imitate it. There's a second, parallel story, a description of another covered wagon trip he took at age seven in 1958 with his father and siblings. The family set out from central Jersey across the Delaware River to south central Pennsylvania for a monthlong "see America slowly" expedition. This adventure, tamer than the Oregon one, is now as much a part of Buck as his DNA. The Oregon trip is fraught with mishaps, near-death experiences, and plain bad luck. But there were also angels along the way helping them get through and guiding Jake and the other two mules. The parallel story is, at times, more compelling than the contemporary one, and the book could have been cut by a quarter and still be a solid read. It shouldn't take longer to read the book than to actually cross the Oregon Trail. VERDICT Recommended for folk interested in the Oregon Trail, pioneer history, or mules. [See Prepub Alert, 2/23/15.]-Lee Arnold, Historical Soc. of -Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A crazy whim of a trip on a covered wagon turns into an inspired exploration of American identity. Journalist Buck (Shane Comes Home, 2005, etc.) chronicles his summerlong journey across the "Great American Desert" in a covered wagon, an arduous, astonishing journey that traced the same exodus of more than 400,000 pioneers across the Oregon Trail in the 15 years before the Civil War. The author and his brother had the knowledge and wherewithal to make such an ambitious journey largely because of their upbringing in rural New Jersey, where their father, a Look magazine editor and former pilot, kept horses and wagons and took the family of 11 children on a similar, though shorter, journey into Pennsylvania in the summer of 1958. Once Buck realized he could not manage three mules and a wagon all by himself, he enlisted his big, enormously capable brother, and the two procured the authentic 19th-century Peter Schuttler wagon and three specially bred American mules (each with its own wonderfully eccentric personality) and all the necessary equipment for breakdowns and repairs. The preparations were daunting, and Buck fascinatingly walks readers through all of them, all with an eye to how the early settlers made the actual journey, from St. Joseph, Missouri, to the Willamette Valley, Oregon: 2,000-plus miles of carefully plotted trail, encompassing high desert and mountains, rivers and shaky bridges, thunderstorms, scant water, and patches of no road. Throughout, the travelers were, by necessity, required to frequently jettison supplies. "See America Slowly" was the theme of the men's boyhood trip, a theme resurrected sweetly for this one. The journey encouraged delighted observers to shelter and feed the men and mules, often in the towns' communal rodeo grounds, and allowed the brothers to reconnect over childhood memories and with the American land they cherished. By turns frankly hilarious, historically elucidating, emotionally touching, and deeply informative. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

The Oregon Trail still exists. More than a century after the vast land migration that expanded American settlement across the continent and earned a mythic place in history, the trail lives on in the form of the highways and infrastructure, ranches and mines that sprang up along the route. Journalist and author Buck looked to trace both the physical trail and its enduring legacy by setting out with his brother in a covered wagon for Oregon. Their trip adds a good dose of reality to romanticized notions of the trail, detailing the many challenges faced by pioneers, from cheating outfitters looking to make a buck to the deadly threat of cholera, which lurked even in the most scenic landscapes. Buck's use of original pioneer journals and scholarly research gives historical depth and context to his journey. While he has no patience for ignorant Americans sightseeing from well-appointed RVs, Buck's love of the trail and the mules, the helpful strangers, and the boastful brother who aided him along the way will capture the imagination of any greenhorn.--Thoreson, Bridget Copyright 2015 Booklist


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Buck (Flight of Passage) recounts his four-month journey following the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail in a covered wagon pulled by mules, accompanied by his brother, Nick, and a dog named Olive Oyl. Peppered with reminiscences of the covered wagon trip his family took when he was a child, this adventure highlights the difficulties of travel without mechanization and often without communication. The author narrates the book himself, and while his reading is a bit uneven, Buck's low-key humor will pull listeners into the scenes as he describes chasing his runaway mules and repairing broken wheels. The author does an excellent job balancing discussion of the historical impact of the Oregon Trail with a current-day travelog about the people and places he encountered. VERDICT For fans of travel reads, those who love the Old West, and history buffs. ["Recommended for folk interested in the Oregon Trail, pioneer history, or mules": LJ 4/15/15 review of the S. & S. hc.]-Cheryl Youse, Norman Park, GA Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Back