THE YEAR OF DECISION: 1846 by Bernard De Voto
Kirkus Star


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At last a date is set for this important book (previously reported, on July 15th -- Page 333 -- for September publication). Here is the vast panorama of Westward expansion, with roots reaching back to Lewis and Clark and the Louisiana Purchase, and forward to the struggle to maintain the Union in the Civil War. The year 1846 is selected as a crucial and decisive point in which the Mexican and Texas troubles came to a head, the Mormon trek made history in its march from the Illinois settlements to the land no man then wanted on Great Salt Lake; when war with England threatened over the Oregon question, and westbound pioneers reached forward to the northwest, and to the coast; when California was still Mexican and mountain men, substantial citizens, squatters, a heterogeneous crowd pressed forward by immigrant train, wagon, boat and so forth. Familiar names cross the pages, -- Jim Bridger, Lansford, Hastings, Hitchcock, Clyman, Reed, Parkman; the Donner tragedy is given its full measure of horror. Freemont's shifty plan, Kearny's conquest of Southern California, the Gadsden Purchase -- all telescoping into relief as 1843 marked ""the year of decision"" that gave us Texas, ultimately, New Mexico, California, Oregon and Deseret -- later Utah. A scholar's book, which even the layman will find packed with minute detail, and colored by the hopes and fears and pleasures and ambitions of the motley throng that stirred and uprooted themselves, and moved westward. A significant facet of American history, of which we cannot be too proud today -- but which bore the earmarks of our ""manifest destiny"".

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1943
Publisher: Little, Brown