Survival: A Novel of the Donner Party

K. C. McKenna, Author
K. C. McKenna, Author Jove Books $4.99 (0p) ISBN 978-0-515-11405-8
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
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Tamsen and George Donner, James Reed and family, Pat Breen, Ike Buford and Hannah Price are just a few of the party that left Springfield, Ill. for the promised land of California in 1846. Much has been written about the ill-fated Donner party and the savage winter that stranded them in the Sierra Nevadas, forcing them to resort to cannibalism. This last titillating fact is the one best remembered, but McKenna brings to life the personal side of the story as well as the acts of heroism and strength that battled the baser side of human nature. Not everyone will want to read this book. Its descriptions are graphic and heartbreaking, there are times when it is hard to turn to the next page, but the tale of these courageous though misled pioneers is heartening as well. McKenna's abundant detail and meticulous research convincingly re-create both the early excitement and optimism and the eventual desperation and agony. As one of the survivors, Patty Reed, who was a child during the journey, now tells Ike Buford's grandson, ``Sometimes merely surviving is miraculous.'' (July)
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