True life horror story of the Donner Party emigrants that end up stranded in the Sierra Nevada mountains in 1846. Originally written in 1936 and revised in 1961, it pulls no punches while still maintaining an objectivity that avoids lurid sensationalism. A bit dated in style and ethnic sensitivity. It’s a little like a Tolstoy novel because of the number of characters involved and the back and forth of the various parties and rescue missions.
You will never forget the vision of the rescuers finding some of the enfeebled, dead, and starving survivors at the bottom of a 25 foot snow and ice crater surrounded by the half eaten corpses of their neighbors and family, their entrails still in the stew pot over the fire.
At once a testament to both the heroism and desperation that humanity is capable of. Murder, greed, and selfishness are just the beginning.
It’s a classic of survival literature that never fails to fascinate and hold us in suspense even as our stomachs churn.
Contains the Reed and Breen diaries as appendices as well as the 12 year old Virginia Reeds account of harrowing journey.