FOR FEAR WE SHALL PERISH by Joseph Pigney

FOR FEAR WE SHALL PERISH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Yet another volume is added to the growing mountain of literature on the ill-fated Donner Party. This one will be able to hold its own against most of the rest. The author arms us with detailed backgrounds of many of the families involved in the 1846 trek to California. He shows the hardships of the trail, and how petty bickerings and tensions grew among the group. He makes much, too, of the bad advice given the party by Lanford Hastings, which resulted in a serious slowing-down of their progress, leading to the fatal decision to cross the Sierra Nevadas in the fall. He does not spare us the gruesome details of that winter imprisoned by snow in the Truckee River area---the starvation, disease, death, and final cannibalism which made the Donner Party forever notorious in American history. At the end (after the rescue, the brief account of life in California which followed), much effort is made to vindicate, or at least explain, the character of Keseburg, a man accused of much of the human butchery. The book is well-written, impressively researched, and holds the reader without the help of sensationalism.

Pub Date: May 4th, 1961
Publisher: Dutton