Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link Weider History Group RSS feed Weider Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Book Review: With Golden Visions Bright Before Them, by Will Bagley

By HistoryNet Staff 
Originally published by Wild West magazine. Published Online: March 30, 2013 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

With Golden Visions Bright Before Them: Trails to the Mining West, 1849–1852, by Will Bagley, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2012, $45

So Rugged and Mountainous, Will Bagley's history of the overland trails from their formation through the 1840s emigrations to Oregon Territory and the Salt Lake Valley, amassed an impressive collection of firsthand accounts, in effect allowing the emigrants to relate their own stories. In his novel approach Bagley culled numerous emigrant accounts of particularly important sites—the start of a cutoff, say, or a particularly difficult mountain passage—and presented them chronologically, thus relating a cohesive account of the march west and its associated hardships. Bagley's skill at unearthing a variety of firsthand accounts has again born fruit in With Golden Visions Bright Before Them, the second volume in his planned three-part series on the overland trails. With Golden Visions details trail life during the California Gold Rush years 1849–52. The narrative inches along with the Forty-Niners, sharing their views on the passing geography, flora and fauna from the wide-open plains along the North Platte River to the death march of the Forty-Mile Desert and the harsh, forbidding peaks of the High Sierras.

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to Wild West magazine

The detailed, almost day-by-day description of the 1849 march of the gold-seekers is both the book's greatest strength—especially for fellow researchers—and the greatest source of frustration for readers wanting a complete history of the Gold Rush. Bagley's fixation on the trails eschews a more macroscopic view of the socioeconomic factors that propelled men and women to seek gold and the effects of the rush on Indian tribes and U.S. policy, beyond what may be contained in the journals and letters he quotes. After an exhaustive look at each major geographic barrier the westbound Forty-Niners faced, Bagley frustratingly halts his subjects' narratives just when they reach the goldfields, while he doubles back to describe unwise cutoffs like the Lassen Trail and Hudspeth Cutoff. Still, Bagley's fidelity to the gold rushers on the trail and dedication to relating their stories as they lived them, including both the banality and transcendence of their passage, makes With Golden Visions the most accurate and exhaustive history of the overland trails during the Gold Rush years.

Steve Mauro 


Recommended


Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Related Articles


History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer
HISTORYNET READERS' POLL

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
STAY CONNECTED WITH US
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet?

The HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Weider History, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
Weider History

Weider History Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer! | StreamHistory.com
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2014 Weider History. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy