In the bestselling tradition of Bill Bryson and Tony Horwitz, Rinker Buck’s The Oregon Trail is a major work of participatory history: an epic account of traveling the two-thousand-mile length of the Oregon Trail the old-fashioned way, in a covered wagon with a team of mules—which hasn’t been done in a century—that also tells the rich history of the trail, the people who made the migration, and its significance to the country.
Spanning two thousand miles and traversing six states from Missouri to the Pacific Ocean, the Oregon Trail is the route that made America. In the fifteen years before the Civil War, when 400,000 pioneers used it to emigrate west—historians still regard this as the largest land migration of all time—the trail united the coasts, doubled the size of the country, and laid the groundwork for the railroads. The trail years also solidified the American character: our plucky determination in the face of adversity, our impetuous cycle of financial bubbles and busts, the fractious clash of ethnic populations competing for the same jobs and space. Today the trail is all but forgotten.
At once a majestic American journey, a significant work of history, and a personal saga reminiscent of bestsellers by Bill Bryson and Cheryl Strayed, the book tells the story of Buck’s two-thousand-mile expedition across the plains with tremendous humor and heart. Apart from charting his own geographical and emotional adventure, Buck introduces readers to the evangelists, shysters, natives, trailblazers, and everyday dreamers who were among the first of the pioneers to make the journey west. With a rare narrative power, a refreshing candor about his own weakness and mistakes, and an extremely attractive obsession for history and travel, The Oregon Trail draws readers into the journey of a lifetime. Download and start listening now!