Ordeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner Party

By George R. Stewart
Read by Jeff Riggenbach

12.17 Hours 08/01/1997 unabridged
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The tragedy of the Donner party constitutes one of the most amazing stories of the American West. In 1846 eighty-seven people—men, women, and children—set out for California and were persuaded to attempt a new overland route. After struggling across the desert, losing many oxen, and nearly dying of thirst, they reached the very summit of the Sierras only to be trapped by blinding snow and bitter storms. Many perished; some survived by resorting to cannibalism; all were subjected to unbearable suffering. Incorporating the diaries of the survivors and other contemporary documents, George Stewart wrote the definitive history of that ill-fated band of pioneers—an astonishing account of what human beings may endure and achieve in the final press of circumstance.

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Summary

Summary

The tragedy of the Donner party constitutes one of the most amazing stories of the American West. In 1846 eighty-seven people—men, women, and children—set out for California and were persuaded to attempt a new overland route. After struggling across the desert, losing many oxen, and nearly dying of thirst, they reached the very summit of the Sierras only to be trapped by blinding snow and bitter storms. Many perished; some survived by resorting to cannibalism; all were subjected to unbearable suffering.

Incorporating the diaries of the survivors and other contemporary documents, George Stewart wrote the definitive history of that ill-fated band of pioneers—an astonishing account of what human beings may endure and achieve in the final press of circumstance.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“Ordeal by Hunger is compulsive reading—a wonderful account, both scholarly and gripping, of a horrifying episode in the history of the west.” Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award–winning author
“Excellent.” New York Times
“The tale comes to life in horror and tragedy. Stewart writes swiftly, surely, dramatically, and with impartial accuracy. Almost every member of the party is re-created with skill and sympathy.” Saturday Review
“Expertly read by Jeff Riggenbach, the tale retains its freshness and power 150 years later. Riggenbach reads the stark story with authority, clarity and richness.” AudioFile
“Riggenbach’s professional, unvoiced presentation provides the appropriately serious reactions and allows the listener to deal with the facts with compassion. Although grisly, the account is sympathetic and not ghoulish. Carefully researched, it illustrates how unbelievably strong the will to survive is.” Kliatt

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: George R. Stewart

George R. Stewart (1895–1980) taught for more than fifty years at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Pickett’s Charge, Earth Abides, and numerous other books of history, biography, and fiction.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction
Runtime: 12.17
Audience: Adult
Language: English