Editor’s note: This review was submitted by a library patron during the 2012 Adult Summer Reading program. We will continue to periodically share the best of these reviews throughout the year. Many thanks to all of those who participated!
“Desperate Passage: The Donner Party’s Perilous Journey West” by Ethan Rarick covers an episode in American history about which I knew very little–basically just the name and the barest outlines from creepy stories told in middle school. Here I learned the whole story, from why the individual families and people in the party chose to go west to how a series of decisions (none of them momentous in themselves) accumulated into a dreadful outcome. The book is well-referenced and enjoyable reading. Some of the characters really came alive; others were just names mentioned briefly on the page. I would imagine that is because their lives left only the barest of documentation, so there’s not much more than that to say. The situation the Donner party found itself in was so distressing that the book made difficult reading at points, and I had to put it down. But I always picked it up again.
Three words that describe this book: gripping, distressing, harrowing
You might want to pick this book up if: You have an interest in American history.
- Elizabeth K.