Books by M.R. Montgomery

Released: July 1, 2000

" Styled more as an adventure narrative than a traditional history, an enjoyable romp with Lewis, Clark, and Pike, along with an interesting introduction to the drama of Aaron Burr's failed attempt to establish himself as emperor of the Louisiana territories. (6 b&w illustrations, 6 maps)"
A good general history that portrays the Lewis and Clark expedition and the expeditions of Zebulon Pike as parts of a larger struggle to establish power in western America. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1995

Trekking and fishing what's left of the wilderness of the American West, Montgomery pronounces ``elegies for dead rivers'' but is hopeful for the ``few special trout left'' in the remote, unsullied streams of the high country. The last of the real West ``is more vertical than horizontal,'' writes Montgomery (The Way of the Trout, 1991): It's found in the mountains, at least a mile above sea level. Rivers such as the East Fork of the Bitterroot in Montana have been disfigured and diverted to provide rich grazing land. But even the East Fork has a tiny, unaltered tributary so conspicuously untouched that Montgomery ``can hardly bear to look at it anymore.'' As he traverses the West, he visits Utah's Green River and the Hoodoo Creek in Wyoming; crisscrosses the Lewis and Clark Trail in Montana; studies the ``mud volcanoes'' on the banks of the Yellowstone; hunts for arrowheads in Harney County, Oreg., near Steens Mountain; scorns the tourism of Jackson Hole, Wyo.; and fishes the Snake River ``to make the acquaintance of another wild western trout,'' an unclassified cutthroat. His digressions on the history of certain areas will prove of more interest to some than his often uninspired fishing sequences. He pauses for an eloquent reflection on the writer C.E.S. Wood, who, as aide-de-camp to Gen. O.O. Howard during his campaign against the Nez Perce, transcribed- -or perhaps authored—Chief Joseph's famous ``I Will Fight No More Forever'' speech. Montgomery also examines Gen. George Crook's frustrating battle at Rosebud Creek, when he simply ``called it a day...went back to Big Goose Creek, and started fishing'' even as Custer engaged the Sioux in a more famous battle. Interesting and informative, but Montgomery's prose often lacks the zest that informs the best nature writing. (6 line drawings, not seen) Read full book review >
Released: May 14, 1991

After 40 years of passionate interest in trout and fly- fishing, Montgomery (Saying Goodbye, 1989; In Search of L.L. Bean, 1984) has learned a great deal about the subject—and here he seems hellbent on sharing all of his vast savvy and experience. Fly-fishermen, Montgomery writes, ``are peculiar'' among outdoorsmen in that they are almost all interested in the history of the sport. Most have at least passing knowledge of the works of Izaak Walton, Charles Cotton, and Richard Bowkler, perhaps because of the sport's technical continuity and long history of recorded how-to mania: Aelian's third-century commentary discusses tying artificial flies. Though the study of the trout itself is of equal import to Montgomery, he offers his own extensive catalogue of observations and meticulously describes the types and functions of flies and how and what they are mode of: Blue Dun flies, caddis, Blue-Winged Olives, mayflies and others, all fabricated with materials like mole fur, pig's ``wool,'' and the ``ultimate or best fur,'' which ``is clipped from near the urine-stained private parts of'' While dry flies are his primary concern, he also has something to say about maggots, minnows, and fluorescent salmon eggs. His fishing experiences take him from Lobster Creek in Oregon to the Bitterroot in Montana to the Derwent River in Charsworth, England, a stream so steeped in tradition that wading is prohibited but benches are provided along the shore. His ``countryside of dreams,'' however, is the Bighorn Valley, the ``dry side'' of the Rocky Mountains. Developing interests in rock-hunting and nature-watching have, over the years, become as important to Montgomery as his lifelong fishing passion, but ``Every year fishing takes me further from the river.'' Will reward patient aficionados; perhaps tiresome for others. (Drawings by Katherine Brown-Wing—a few seen.) Read full book review >

Boston Globe columnist Montgomery's attempt to find meaning and reconciliation in the lives of his father and father-in-law. As a member of the US Navy Civil Engineer Corps, Montgomery's American father spent part of WW II literally paving the way for the arrival of troops in Scotland. As a Japanese resident alien, Montgomery's father-in-law spent the war years teaching his native language to naval recruits in Boulder, Col.; he avoided detention camp by giving up his thriving medical practice in California and going east. A direct and sustained comparison of these men might have been fascinating, but it does not occur here. The men met only once—at the author's wedding—and saw no need to continue their new relationship. Each lived for decades after the war, but neither was inclined to talk about it very much. Thus, the author's attempt to re-create their experiences proceeds through historical documentation. As he sifts through "tens of thousands" of pieces of paper in document rooms stretching from Fort Peck, Mont., to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., to the Naval Construction Battalion Center at Port Hueneme, Cal., Montgomery amasses mountains of detail. But extensive treatments of the geological characteristics of northeastern Montana, the politics behind the founding of the Naval Schools of Oriental Languages, the history of lend-lease, or the intricacies of his father's military personnel record do not make it at all clear whether the "difficulty of the father-and-child relationship" that Mongomery set out to explore has been resolved. Excessively detailed and likely to disappoint the student of psychohistory; but Montgomery's encyclopedic research may hold the attention of engineers and amateur historians of WW II. Read full book review >