by Michael S. Durham
Henry Holt, 1997. 336 pgs. Nonfiction
This quick survey of the history of the Great Basin begins with geography and geology, the Native American presence, and the first Spanish explorers in the region. It then moves on to various explorers and mountain men criss-crossing the region. Lastly it tells of the pioneering efforts of the Mormons in the region, the “Utah War,” the short-lived Pony Express, and concludes with the arrival of the transcontinental railroad.
The narrative moves breezily and uses footnotes sparingly. If nothing else, this overview whets the appetite for further reading on such explorers as John Fremont and Jedediah Smith, tales of the fur trappers, and tragedies such as that of the Donner Party and the mountain meadows massacre.