Morgan's Book Valuable Addition to Historical Record
Lions of the West
By Robert Morgan
By Pat Taylor
For most Americans, the period between 1803, when the Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the U.S., and 1850, when the California gold rush was at a frenzy, is a blank canvas.
It has none of the familiar feel of the Founding Fathers, and none of the intrigue of the Civil War. Yet it was the most critical time in our nation's history in many ways, for during those roughly four decades the country grew from being a nation hemmed in by the Mississippi to a nation that stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
It was not often a smooth transition. There were wars with Mexico over territory. There was a bitter political divide that was at least equal to the partisanship of today. There were rivalries between individuals that sometimes led to duels. There was the displacement of the Indian tribes, including the Trail of Tears. And, of course, there was the question of what to do with slavery.
This was a time of larger-than-life men involved in sweeping events. It was a time of exploring and conquering, of establishing precedents in government and business that continue to this day.
"Lions of the West" offers the stories of 10 of these men that author Robert Morgan captured in profile. Most of the men are familiar to us, at least as important figures in popular culture. Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, David Crockett, Sam Houston and Kit Carson are household names. Lesser known, but still recognized, are Presidents John Quincy Adams and James K. Polk, and Gen. Winfield Scott. A couple are downright obscure, including Nicholas Trist and John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed.
Each man had a significant hand in the development of the West. Morgan's treatment of each hits high spots with explanations, without being overtly critical. He offers commentary about strengths and weaknesses, without a venomous pen. Each profile presents an interesting life, the great achievements and the sometimes great personal sacrifices.
Of particular note was Kit Carson, who embodies the very ideal of the mountain man of the early 19th century.
This valuable addition to the historical record is by a gifted historian and novelist. It fills the gap in a most interesting period of American history. It is a "can't-put-it-down" kind of history book.
Contact Pat Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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