cover image The Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail

Leonard Everett Fisher. Holiday House, $18.95 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-0833-7

Fisher, an accomplished master of illustrated histories ( The White House ; Ellis Island ), here focuses on this famous 2000-mile trail which stretched from the Missouri River to the mouth of the Columbia River in the Oregon Territory. For 20 years (the 1840s and '50s) countless ``emigrants'' traveled this arduous route in prairie schooners, seeking new lives in the West and the fulfillment of the nation's manifest destiny to control all of North America. Drawing on a variety of contemporary accounts, Fisher doesn't gloss over the conflicts with Native Americans, death by disease and accident, or the brutal forces of nature: ``Many lost everything, including their lives.'' Carefully selected archival photos and engravings support the brisk narrative, but unfortunately the many notable paintings are (unlike the cover) reproduced in black and white. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)