Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Trim: 6⅜ x 9½
978-1-4422-1112-4 • Hardback • December 2012 • $62.00 • (£48.00)
978-1-4422-1113-1 • Paperback • August 2014 • $19.95 • (£14.99)
978-1-4422-1114-8 • eBook • December 2012 • $18.95 • (£14.99)
Subjects: History / United States / 19th Century
, History / General
, History / United States / General
, History / United States / State & Local / Pacific Northwest (OR, WA)
, History / United States / State & Local / West (AK, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NV, UT, WY)
Larry E. Morris is the author of The Fate of the Corps, which was named a Top Academic Title by Choice and a History Book Club selection. Morris has published articles on early Western history in such periodicals as The Missouri Historical Review, American History, and We Proceeded On. He is a senior editor with the Joseph Smith Papers Project. He and his wife, Deborah, have four children—Isaac, Courtney, Justin, and Whitney—and live in Salt Lake City.
Prologue: The Timely Arrival of This Poor Unfortunate Woman
Chapter 1: I Shall Have Two Boats Well Manned and Armed
Chapter 2: A Powerful Company Is Forming
Chapter 3: Dissolved by Mutual Consent
Chapter 4: We All Now Became Blind from the Reflection of the Sun’s Rays
Chapter 5: Whiskey Flowed Like Milk and Honey in the Land of Canaan
Chapter 6: About Seventy Able Bodied Men, Nerved to Hardship
Chapter 7: Families, Plantations, and All Vanished
Chapter 8: A Very Sad Recollection
Chapter 9: The Inscrutable Ways of Providence
Epilogue: Desolation and Horror Stared Me in the Face
Morris (The Fate of the Corps: What Became of the Lewis and Clark Explorers After the Expedition) here focuses on the early 1800s Western fur trade, beginning with Robert McClellan and Ramsey Crooks, both of whom started up the Missouri River in 1806, each meeting the returning Lewis and Clark expedition. Despite the title, the adventures of many more than seven major historical figures are presented here in a single integrated narrative about the search for a new overland route to reach the Oregon country. Prominently featured is Marie Dorion, the Iowa Indian wife of interpreter and hunter Pierre Dorian Jr. In 1811–12 she became the second woman in recorded Western history to travel cross-country to the Pacific Ocean, with voyageurs employed by St. Louis fur merchant Wilson Price Hunt. Marie Dorion’s adventures parallel those of Sacagawea of the Lewis and Clark expedition; the two women even seem to have befriended each other between 1809 and 1811. VERDICT Highly recommended for both specialists and general readers, this history of the Western fur trade and early explorers along the Oregon Trail is a welcome addition to the literature.
— Library Journal, Starred Review
Lewis and Clark’s 1804 expedition prompted numerous similar attempts to explore and exploit the West, paving the way for cutthroat rivalries and revolving partnerships between competing fur traders, trappers, and native peoples. Morris (The Fate of the Corps) takes a scholarly look at the ill-fated lives of seven explorers, including an abused and pregnant Native American who ventured with her two small children through hostile territory and endured intense deprivation. While noted fur company owners such as John Jacob Astor waged economic war against other well-heeled rivals, the ruthlessness and bitterness was much more personal for trappers deep in various Native American hunting grounds, where they fought natural obstacles like unforgiving storms and the raging Snake River, as well as each other. The detailed descriptions of these dangerous treks render some of the lesser-known pioneers interchangeable in their misery and struggles; the appendix of biographical histories and chronology is crucial for armchair navigation. Although the expeditions are sometimes difficult to track, Morris offers a revealing look behind frontier fatalism and the drive to be the first to discover—and capitalize on—America’s hidden resources.
— Publishers Weekly
Written for academics and history buffs alike, Larry E. Morris has provided a new perspective of six noteworthy frontiersmen and one female who made their marks in the exploration of the early American West. . .He paints good word pictures in the reader's mind and provides the reader with a new appreciation for the fur traders, trappers, and Indians involved in founding the Oregon Trail. . .Morris captures with intensity the lives, events, and hardships experienced by those involved as they sought to make their marks for history.
— Overland Journal
In this interpretation of western history, the West becomes the backdrop for an exciting story of heroic and entrepreneurial men who overcome great obstacles to expand the reach and operation of American society, economy, capital, and governance.
— Oregon Historical Quarterly
Larry E. Morris, the author of this appropriately titled work, has done three things well. First, he has chosen a long-untreated story with appropriate respect and found its nuances. In doing so he inspires the reader's interest in learning and highlights the pure joy of discovering history. Second, he presents comprehensive references, analytical notes, and concise biographical profiles about various characters in a lastingly useful manner. Resources are created in the text and an appendix, providing a foundation for further study by even the most casual reader. Finally, he leaves the reader wanting more - more detail, more substance, and more references still. ... The Perilous West is a thoughtful study in chance and the potential influence of individual human beings on the course of events of an entire nation. ... The Perilous West will make an excellent reference work that will be a lasting credit to author and publisher alike.
— Annals of Wyoming
The Perilous West is both a tribute . . . as well as a useful reference work bridging the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the heyday of the Rocky Mountain fur trade. . . .Morris has done his homework and his genealogical research goes far in providing new information on many obscure or poorly-documented individuals.
— We Proceeded On
Even as Morris is providing a competent survey of events on the northern Great Plains and the Rockies in the wake of Lewis and Clark, he also effectively demonstrates just how perilous this West could be for Euro-Americans. All too frequently adrift in territories completely foreign to them and confronted by some indigenous peoples intolerant of intruders, the ranks of the earliest Euro-American voyagers were drastically thinned by starvation, drowning, disease, and battle. As Morris describes such events, he redirects the reader’s attention to those relatively anonymous figures, such as John Hoback, Jacob Reznor, and Edward Robinson. . . .Morris also sheds light on an intriguing family, the Dorions, who played their own significant role in the arrival of American exploration and enterprise in the Great Plains and the Rockies. By doing so, Morris reminds us, in his own way, of the importance of family and kinship. . . . [T]hose readers who wish to bolster their understanding of the American republic’s tentative first steps into the worlds around, above, and beyond the Missouri at the dawn of the nineteenth century would find much of value in this volume.
— Great Plains Quarterly
Larry Morris picks up where he left off with his previous examination of men who made up the Corps of Discovery to present the too often neglected stories of seven early frontiersmen and their influence on the exploration of the West. Morris brings fresh insight to this study of several important individuals who made significant contributions to an expanding nation following the return of Lewis and Clark. Though each character examined in the book has their own exciting story of gripping adventure, Morris does a splendid job weaving their inter-related involvement in a young Rocky Mountain fur trade into a well-researched, concise narrative, bringing long-awaited recognition to seven people who impacted the creation of the Oregon Trail.
— Jim Hardee, Editor, The Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal, Museum of the Mountain Man, Pinedale, WY
Author Larry E. Morris follows up his excellent Fate of the Corps: What Became of the Lewis and Clark Explorers After the Expedition with a sweeping chronicle of the forerunners of the Oregon Trail. His narrative of the adventures of Manuel Lisa, Wilson Price Hunt, Robert Stuart, Robert McClellan, Ramsay Crooks, Pierre and Marie Dorion, and many others reveals that misfortunes often proved as significant as successes in shaping the history of the American West.
— Jay H. Buckley, Author of William Clark: Indian Diplomat; co-author of By His Own Hand? The Mysterious Death of Meriwether Lewis; and, Zebulon Pike, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the West
Larry Morris deftly chronicles the escapades of seven venturesome westerners whose pioneering journeys helped establish the Oregon Trail along a route that became the preferred path to the Pacific. This well-told tale will please academics and history buffs alike. Move over Lewis and Clark!
— William E. Foley, author of Wilderness Journey the Life of William Clark and coauthor of The First Chouteaus: River Barons of Early St. Louis