MOUNTAIN MAN: A Novel of Male and Female in the Early American West by Vardis Fisher

MOUNTAIN MAN: A Novel of Male and Female in the Early American West

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fisher, who has completed his twelve volume, rather muzzily philosophical, Testament of Man, now returns to the venue of his earlier, more successful books. Even if the subtitle is not completely served, certainly the rude romanticism of this era and the men who endured the loneliness of the wilderness are substantiated. Its broadly general subject is the everyday life among the fur-trappers and their relations with the Crow and Blackfoot tribes from 1846 until the Mormon invasion. Its more specific affinity with history is that two of the three central characters have been suggested by actual people: Kate Bowden (i.e. Jane Morgan) who was stunned mindless after her family was slaughtered on the Muscleshell: secondly, Samson Minard (i.e. John Johnston- the ""Crow-killer"") who marries an Indian Chief's daughter and their indoor-outdoor idyll is over about a third of the way through the book when she is scalped. Swearing revenge, he pursues his vendetta against the Crows, is taken prisoner and escapes, and periodically goes to see Kate Bowden, living alone by the graves of her family. The story, while readable enough, is not the thing; mostly, the book has value in its indigenous detail not only on the history of the period but the natural history of the region with its luxuriant flora and fauna. Fisher is very attuned to the call of the wild and writes about it with a kind of primal lyricism.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1965
ISBN: 0893012513
Publisher: Morrow