"In what The Washington Post has called ""fascinating,"" Frank McLynn has penned a year-by-year account of the pioneering efforts to conquer and settle the American West. Wagons West is a stirring history of the years from 1840 to 1849-between the era of the fur trappers and the beginning of the gold rush. In all the sagas of human migration, few can top the drama of the journey by Midwestern farmers to Oregon and California. Although they used mountain men as guides, they went almost literally into the unknown, braving dangers from hunger, thirst, disease, and drowning. Using original diaries and memoirs, McLynn ""provides intimate, perceptive insights into that time"" (The Baltimore Sun) and underscores the incredible heroism and dangerous folly on the overland trails. His well-informed and authoritative narrative investigates the events leading up to the opening of the trails, the wagons and animals used by the pioneers, the role of women, relations with Native Americans, and much else. The climax arrives in McLynn's expertly re-created tale of the dreadful Donner party, and he closes with Brigham Young and the Mormons beginning communites of their own. Full of high drama, tragedy, and triumph, it brilliantly chronicles one of the principal chapters in the creation of the United States as we know it today."