Lions of the West: Heroes and Villains of Westward Expansion

Robert Morgan.S. hannon Ravenal, $29.95 (468p) ISBN 978-1-56512-626-8
Morgan has made the Old West his preserve with the novel Gap Creek and a biography of Daniel Boone. Here he covers considerable ground, both geographical and temporal, tracing the lives of 10 Americans who played significant roles in the country's westward expansion. Morgan's focus is on their personalities and exploits in securing the West, not in their roles as politicians, which leaves him with a somewhat one-sided portrait of Andrew Jackson. But in general he builds well-rounded portraits, beginning with Thomas Jefferson and the seminal exploration of Lewis and Clark, and ending with John Quincy Adams, a critic of the western expansion until his death in 1848. Three chapters on the Mexican-American War focus on three individuals involved in the controversial but successful endeavor—President James Polk, Gen. Winfred Scott, and the lesser-known Nicholas Trist, chief negotiator of the final treaty. Morgan is best when describing the many battles fought to secure the west. Sam Houston's confrontation with Mexican general Santa Ana is especially vivid. And the author's sympathetic and thoughtful essay on Kit Carson ruminates on the moral challenges raised by westward expansion. Readers interested in the Old West will be rewarded. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
Compact Disc - 1080 pages - 978-1-61174-669-3
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