Desperate Passage
Desperate Passage The Donner Party's Perilous Journey West By Rarick, Ethan Book - 2008

Desperate Passage is Ethan Rarick’s overview and analysis of the infamous Donner Party that travelled west from Independence, Missouri with the eventual goal of reaching California in the 1840s. Rarick’s style of writing makes readers want to keep reading in order to find out what happens next. He also does a good job in explaining why members of the Donner Party wanted to settle in California, and he documents experiences of the Donner Party such as receiving bad advice to travel through the muddy and harsh terrain of Utah, which contributed to them later getting stuck in the Sierra Neva Mountains in the winter and where some members resorted to cannibalism in order to survive. The book concludes by exploring how some strong family units survived the trip as opposed to single men who died at higher rates during the journey. Rarick also concludes the book by discussing newspaper headlines from the time period, their sensationalist news coverage of the event, and portrayals of the Donner Party as mentally unstable. This book is a great resource for its insight on the Donner Party and for the exciting writing style of Rarick.

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