A senstive historian (his previous The Landing of the Pilgrims, Of Courage Uncounted etc.) retells the story of the Whitmans and the missionary band who went to the Oregon territory and the Indians with warmth and vibrance. Coming, even before the settlers, as agents for the American Board of Missions, they and their fellow workers confronted inner and outer struggles and, as buffers between the deprived Indian tribes and the government, their job of teaching and keeping the peace was often doubled. Marcus and Narcissa's dreams of and efforts towards Oregon development and prosperity were to bear fruit but too late for the brave couple, for an Indian massacre ended their lives that had been dedicated to helping the Indians adjust to the little that was left to them. A fine interpretation and commentary that enlightens a period.