Download The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey Audiobook

The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey Audiobook, by Rinker Buck Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Rinker Buck Narrator: Rinker Buck Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2015 ISBN: 9781442386228
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“A virtuoso storyteller in a very American vein” (Phillip Lopate), Rinker Buck reads his epic account of traveling the length of the Oregon Trail the old-fashioned way—in a covered wagon with a team of mules, an audacious journey that hasn’t been attempted in a century—which 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 coast, the Oregon Trail is the route that made America. In the fifteen years before the Civil War, when 400,000 pioneers used the trail to emigrate West—scholars still regard this as the largest land migration in history—it united the coasts, doubled the size of the country, and laid the groundwork for the railroads. Today, amazingly, the trail is all but forgotten.

Rinker Buck is no stranger to grand adventures. His first travel narrative, Flight of Passage, was hailed by The New Yorker as “a funny, cocky gem of a book,” and with The Oregon Trail he brings the most important route in American history back to glorious and vibrant life.

Traveling from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Baker City, Oregon, over the course of four months, Buck was accompanied by three cantankerous mules, his boisterous brother, Nick, and an “incurably filthy” Jack Russell terrier named Olive Oyl. Along the way, they dodge thunderstorms in Nebraska, chase runaway mules across the Wyoming plains, scout more than five hundred miles of nearly vanished trail on foot, cross the Rockies, and make desperate fifty-mile forced marches for water. The Buck brothers repair so many broken wheels and axels that they nearly reinvent the art of wagon travel itself. They also must reckon with the ghost of their father, an eccentric yet loveable dreamer whose memory inspired their journey across the plains and whose premature death, many years earlier, has haunted them both ever since.

But The Oregon Trail is much more than an epic adventure. It is also a lively and essential work of history that shatters the comforting myths about the trail years passed down by generations of Americans. Buck introduces listeners to the largely forgotten roles played by trailblazing evangelists, friendly Indian tribes, female pioneers, bumbling US Army cavalrymen, and the scam artists who flocked to the frontier to fleece the overland emigrants. Generous portions of the audiobook are devoted to the history of old and appealing things like the mule and the wagon. We also learn how the trail accelerated American economic development. Most arresting, perhaps, are the stories of the pioneers themselves—ordinary families whose extraordinary courage and sacrifice made this country what it became.

At once a majestic journey across the West, a significant work of history, and a moving personal saga, The Oregon Trail draws listeners into the journey of a lifetime. It is a wildly ambitious work of nonfiction from a true American original. It is an audiobook with a heart as big as the country it crosses. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “This smart, endearing book is not just about a picaresque and probably ill-advised adventure; it’s a story about us—who we are and how we came to be that way…Buck finds his way deep into our nation’s DNA.”

    Hampton Sides, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Buck brings the land to life…His exploration of America and himself is a joy to read.”

    USA Today (4 out of 4 stars)

  • “Weaving a tale somewhere between a travelogue and a history lesson, Buck traces the iconic path literally and figuratively as he re-creates the great migration with his brother and a Jack Russell terrier.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Absorbing…Winning…and unpretentious.”

    New York Times

  • “Charming, big-hearted, impassioned, and a lot of fun to read…His rapturous account will still leave you daydreaming and hungry to see this land.”

    Boston Globe

  • “This book is a keeper…[A] rollicking good read, a book that’s as much fun as the Brothers Buck seem to be as they travel from Missouri to Oregon by covered wagon…Observant, conversational, and often funny.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Interwoven in Buck’s adventure tale is a fascinating history of the development of the trail, its heyday, and the colorful characters that made the journey…Readers are sure to be delighted by this humorous and entertaining story that allows us to believe that Walter Mitty–like fantasies can indeed come true.”

    Associated Press

  • “Buck endures heat, dust, flooded rivers, and dangerous storms…He layers his account of this four-month road trip with family stories, elucidating history lessons and inspired side trips into twenty-first-century America.”

  • “A crazy whim of a trip on a covered wagon turns into an inspired exploration of American identity…The journey…allowed the brothers to reconnect over childhood memories and with the American land they cherished. By turns frankly hilarious, historically elucidating, emotionally touching, and deeply informative.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Skillfully weaving historical anecdotes into his story, Buck has crafted a winning account of an improbable modern-day pilgrimage.”


  • “Rinker Buck sucks the listener into his ‘see America slowly’ trip … a crazy, arduous, and sometimes dangerous adventure completely out of its time…Hilarious and heartwarming.”


  • “Buck’s lean prose, historical insight, and penetrating curiosity elevate The Oregon Trail into an instant classic that deserves a place on your bookshelf between Bryson and Horwitz. A master storyteller and dogged reporter, Buck gives substance to an unrelenting wanderlust that is the envy of anyone who has ever dreamed of lighting out for the territories.”

    Bob Drury, coauthor of The Heart of Everything That Is

  • One of the BBC’s Best Books to Read in July
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for July 2015 in Nonfiction
  • A BookPage Top Pick for July in Adventure Books
  • Selected for the Indie Next List
  • A New York Times bestseller
  • A 2015 Amazon Best Books of the Year Selection for History
  • A Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015 for Nonfiction

Listener Reviews

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  • 3.666666 out of 53.666666 out of 53.666666 out of 53.666666 out of 53.666666 out of 5 SueSew | 11/21/2015

    " Interesting from a historical perspective and I leant lots about the Oregon trail of past and present. I enjoyed the narration by the author and the dynamics between him and his brother. However I felt the book was overly long and the story side tracked frequently. I didn't feel I got to know any historical characters which made it a dry listen. Maybe following the tales of one or two families would have been more emotional. "

About the Author

Rinker Buck began his career as a reporter for the Berkshire Eagle in western Massachusetts. He then worked for New York, Life, and Adweek magazines, and his articles and columns have appeared in numerous national magazines and newspapers. He and his wife, Amelia de Neergaard, live with their two daughters in Cornwall, Connecticut.