In the best-selling 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 entire 2,000-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 2,000 miles and traversing six states from Missouri to the Pacific Ocean, the Oregon Trail is the route that made America. In the 15 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, amazingly, the trail is all but forgotten.
Rinker Buck is no stranger to grand adventures. The New Yorker described his first travel narrative, Flight of Passage, as "a funny, cocky gem of a book", and with The Oregon Trail he seeks to bring the most important road in American history back to life. At once a majestic American journey, a significant work of history, and a personal saga reminiscent of best sellers by Bill Bryson and Cheryl Strayed, the book tells the story of Buck's 2,000-mile expedition across the plains with tremendous humor and heart. He was accompanied by three cantankerous mules, his boisterous brother, Nick, and an "incurably filthy" Jack Russell terrier named Olive Oyl.
Includes an extended behind-the-scenes conversation with author/narrator Rinker Buck with his brother and trail companion Nick Buck.
©2015 Rinker Buck (P)2015 Simon & Schuster
First class. Each chapter combined geographical descriptions along with key historical characters. Felt I was bumping along in the wagon with them
"An author does not a good narrator make"
Why, oh why, oh why, why, why, do writers who put enormous energy and time into a venture only to ruin it by reading it themselves? Is it ego? Does he not have a good friend to quietly pull him aside and tell him it stinks? I'm sorely disappointed to return this book after looking forward to it for so long.
"Little About The Trail - All About Him"
I doubt it. The title and the subject of the book were deceptive. It should have been called - Finding Myself and My Family on the Oregon Trail.
Only if it is rated high by all reviewers (the average rating of stars is misleading. Finding the median would have been more accurate.) and not if he narrates it.
His reads his own book with great effort. It is stilted and often irritating.
Not really... It did give a good description of mule breeding, but it could have been a short story or article. He did recommend another book at the beginning of his book that would probably be a better representation of a book on the Oregon Trail.
I live on the Oregon Trail. I live within 15 miles of where he passed, and I was looking for something that was more about the trail than about a man trying to find himself, having lived under the shadow of his father, and his own uncertainties. Never compare this to the works of Bill Bryson. This book was not humorous, it was not engaging, and the author often seemed to get lost in his story of himself, and not focusing on the trail -
"Not what I expected..."
Disappointed with the author's attitude about so many people, he referred to Individuals who drive RVs, Tourists, Individuals who drive Mini Vans, Mormons, Cops as "morons or idiots".
I was expecting the focus of this book about an authentic crossing of the Oregon trail, however - with the exception of his actual path, not much seemed to be authentic, he brought many creature comforts, had access to a truck, cell phone, and other modern conveniences.
"Shouldn't be compared to Bill Bryson"
This "memoir" is only glancingly like those of Bill Bryson. While the history of the Oregon trail is interesting, there really is not a great deal of in this book. It's more the story of mules and wagon breakdowns. There were times when the situation was very tense, yet the author didn't project that tension with his language. A pair of women friends arrive to join their journey, are accorded a bit of narrative (they wash some really disgusting pots) and then disappear, never to be heard from again.
The narration was truly awful and this may have spoiled the whole book for me. The author has odd phrasing in many, many places. For example, a narrator would normally say "would have been" all in one phrase; the author says "would have...been". This sort of choppiness occurred *very* frequently and made me slightly nuts.
I'd recommend you try reading the book, and skip this audiobook.
"Great Book But...."
No. I found this to be a great book however out of the blue 2/3 of the way through the author out the blue started into a political rant condemning conservationism. This may have been appropriate had it been advertised as political indoctrination. It's a shame that I spent my hard earned money on a book I was unable to finish.
"The narrator (author) got in the way"
From the first minute I found the narrator (who happens to be the author) very annoying in his halting, artificial, self-conscious reading out loud of his own writing. I considered asking for a refund and buying the actual book. But by the second or third hour I was more used to him as we both started to relax. He relaxed some of his clumsy gait/diction and I relaxed my criticism as the story took over. I listened to all 16 hours over a few weeks driving around and by the end the author and his goofy brother seemed like not very articulate friends. Why does no one have the courage to say "no" to the author who wants to read his own work? Don't do it! Sixteen hours is a long time to pull that squeaky wagon uphill...but in the end I enjoyed the story and learned a LOT about mules.
"Americana with a hint of uncharitability? "
I have now listened to both Rinker's self narrated The Flighf of Passage and Oregon Trail. Both represent the best in American sentimental litterature and I recommend both. But Rinker is a bone head. And he seems to have developed a minor case of hemroids since the first book.
Of course being a bone head is valuable for many a neurotic self doubting ego centric over achiever and we often benefit through their over achievments. In this second book, however, Rinker seems to have tranferred a certain doubt about himself to fellow citizens and his own country. And its a shame because a good and dilligent editor could have spared us these gratuitous pieces of crap by excising just a few paragraphs. In one case by dropping two single words.
"Americans on summer vacation, especially the RVers, are idiots, and haven't read anything in years. Their every cranial neuron has been erased by watching Fox News."
Rinker especially hates our national myths which he seems hoping will be vigorously cleansed of their sugar coating. Seemingly unaware such places exist to this very day with millenia long blood feuds instead. And then there is this statement of inexplicable simple mindedness:
"The greatest mass migration in human history! "
This leaves me breathless having read some Roman history and the mass migration from East Prussia and environs late 1945. Millions died. Speaking of mythical idiocy.
And of course their is also "The Middle Passage" ho humm
"Travel by mule wagon"
The narration was so poor that I could hardly listen to the story. Parts were interesting but way too much about the mules acting out.
"Don Quixote and Sancho Panzo on the Oregon Trail"
When we think of the Oregon Trail or the Appalachian Trail, we think of cute little hikes, pioneers, out for a Sunday stroll with the occasional Indian attack as their only deterrent. The Oregon Trail shows just how dangerous and grueling that trek to the west actually was. The writer, who also happens to be a good narrator for his own book, offers a piece of history and a first-hand experience of heading west by covered wagon. With his quirky brother by his side, this becomes the Sancho Panzo and Don Quixote tale of the Oregon Trail
Loved the interspersing of history with the live account of following the Oregon Trail!
Beautifully described familial interactions. Great listen!
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