A region of such wealth and beauty as Upper California could not long be hidden from the eyes of restless Americans pressing steadily westward. In 1841 a party of men, women, and children set out from Missouri led by John Bidwell, the prince of California pioneers. Their trip to California across the plains and mountains, as revealed in the journal of their leaders, is a tribute to human courage, endurance, and faith. We knew only, Bidwell wrote, that California lay to the west. The Bidwell pioneers were followed by many other parties, including the Donner-Reed party. Caught in the Sierra Nevada mountains by the icy grip of an early winter, the Donner party built crude shelters and struggled to survive. Soup made of boiled leather and powdered bones became a luxury. Of the 79 persons who started, 34 died before an expedition out of California rescued the survivors. Allan Eckert s new book, Dark Journey, provides an accurate and comprehensive, yet dramatic, picture of the Donner-Reed Wagon Train s grim, harrowing odyssey from Illinois westward to California, beginning in the spring of 1846 and finally mercifully ending in the spring of the following year. It is the result of extended and intensive research through a multitude of original documents and contemporary accounts of this poignant chapter in American history. Dark Journey is fact, not fiction, The incidents described in this work actually occurred; the dates are historically accurate; the characters, regardless of how major or minor, actually lived the roles in which they are herein portrayed. In this volume, certain techniques normally associated with the novel form have been utilized to help provide continuity and narrative flow but never at the expense of historical accuracy. Where dialogue is used, it is actual quoted conversation from historical sources. Otherwise it is reconstructed from historically recorded interchanges between individuals but not written then as dialogue. In other instances, historical fact has been utilized in the form of conversation to maintain dramatic narrative pace but unfailingly in keeping with the character and fundamental perspective of the individual speaking the words.
Used availability for Allan W Eckert's Dark Journey
October 2009 : USA Hardback
February 2012 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition