Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Way West by A.B. Guthrie

The Way West by A.B. Guthrie, 1949

After reading one Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction novel about World War II, I decided to jump ahead a year since the 1949 winner also was about World War II. In the 1950 winner, The Way West, Former senator William Tadlock leads a wagon train from along the Oregon Trail from Missouri with the help of hired guide Dick Summers. After several accidents which cost settlers lives, a mutiny of sorts develops and his position is overtaken by Lije Evans. Soon, different factions develop amongst the people of the train as they try to survive their trek to Oregon.

Incidentally, the book is not nearly as dramatic as that introduction makes it sound. Guthrie sort of moses through the novel at a pace fitting a wagon-train schlep across the country.

In fact, the game, The Oregon Trail, which I couldn't get out of my head while I read the book, provided a much more edge-of-your-seat experience. I mean, you could literally get typhoid fever at any moment in that game...not to mention fording the river!

Anyway, I really liked this book. I old no great affinity for the old west, but I do enjoy a good entrepreneurial tale, and I think that's what gripped me here. These are some fairly well-off folks who are willing to risk their livelihoods to seek a fresh start.

And who wouldn't want a fresh start? A chance to work for yourself. Start a clean slate. Get what you put it. Reading this, I definitely feel I would have been one of those early settlers who headed west.

The Way West is an easy read that captures what I imagine was the life and times of the day while providing a nice story to capture the imagination...even if is no rabbit hunting involved.
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