Monday, October 8, 2007

A fine book about a 19th century wagon train journey


To Truckee's Trail, by Celia Hayes is a partially fictional account of pioneers making a journey by wagon train across the western American plains and mountains in search of a better life. Drawing on the journal of an energetic and multi-talented doctor and from interviews with some of the participants done in later years, Ms. Hayes paints a portrait of the extremely difficult struggles pioneers of the early 1800's experienced.

Her prose is measured and the characterizations are true to life. Her descriptions are often colorful and at times poetic such as when she describes a night sky: "The sky had entirely darkened now, pricked by a brilliant spangle of stars."

Her attention to detail and her obviously thorough research of the era make this book a solid, believable account, richly textured and with wonderful historical detail. As I got further into the book, I became increasingly engrossed, wanting to know what was around the next bend, or over the next mountain.

Ms. Hayes brings the characters vividly to life and and in so doing illuminates for us something of the 19th century mindset. I recommend To Truckee's Trail because it is entertaining and educational. A fine work and a worthy read. The book is available at and other booksellers.

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