cover image The Oregon Trail: An American Journey

The Oregon Trail: An American Journey

Rinker Buck. Simon & Schuster, $30 (480p) ISBN 978-1-4516-5916-0

Despite growing up on the East Coast, Buck’s (Flight of Passage) fondest childhood memories are of going on family trips with his eccentric father, who insisted on “seeing America slowly” by traveling and camping out in a covered wagon. These trips ignited a lust for travel and history that stuck with Buck, and that came roaring back when he found out that the Oregon Trail is meticulously preserved and traversable. Buck and his foul-mouthed handyman brother, Nick, set out to follow the 2,000-mile path, with only a covered wagon and mule team as their mode of transportation. The ensuing tale combines the brothers’ personal narrative with the remarkable history of the trail, including written accounts from the pioneers who braved it. What could have been a set of rote diary entries is anything but, as Buck’s enthusiasm for the often arduous trip, coupled with his honest assessment of poor judgments and mistakes along the way, makes for an entertaining and enlightening account of one of America’s most legendary migrations. Even readers who don’t know a horse from a mule will find themselves swept up in this inspiring and masterful tale of perseverance and the pioneer spirit. Illus. Agent: Sloan Harris, ICM. (July)