THE GREAT RECONNAISSANCE by Edward S. Wallace

THE GREAT RECONNAISSANCE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A record of the exploration, surveying, and mapping of the vast area acquired by the U.S. in 1848, under the treaty terms settling the Mexican War, this carefully researched and exciting history begins essentially with the American commission under John Bartlett- who included in his expeditions tailors, bootmakers, botanists, zoologists, engineers, etc. and ends with the slaughter of the camels which Jefferson Davis sought to introduce in the Southwest. Wallace's story is so preeminently one of disorganization, daring and color that it is difficult to unify the sprawling wealth of his subject. The substance of the book consists of murders, wild Mexican fiestas, castaways saved from perdition, blizzards, cannibalism, the involvements and intimacies with the Indians and hostilities of desperados, the defection of key personnel with the lure of the goldrush in '49, and the numerous origins of the humor and heroism of frontier life. Wallace struts across his stage George McClellan, John Pope, George Meade, and finds in Fremont a principal figure. He portrays the chicaneries and glowing dreams of the political forces in Washington. He captures the main significance to America's growth of all that explorers and surveyors technically achieved. But this is more fundamentally a book compounded of details, circumstances, private and informal concessions, and the just plain physical business of people founding a nation together. First rate Americana, instructive and convincing, which should rouse any random curiosity.

Publisher: Little, Brown