During the centuries-long expansion of the Hudson's Bay Company throughout Canada, its initials, emblazoned on the flags it flew, became ubiquitous. There were even jokes about the symbols. "What did HBC stand for?" asked the tenderfoot. And the old trapper took another pull at his clay pipe before replying gravely, "Here Before Christ." Here, in this short-form book by New York Times bestselling historian David Lavender, is the company's surprising and little-told story.
The story of America's westward movement is at heart the story of men and women of all origins and beliefs who helped shape the character of a nation. They lived a stirring epic, the telling of which grows ever more fascinating it becomes ever more remote. It has become a romance, a drama of men and women against the forces of a stupendous land and nameless terrors. Pain and violence tormented whites and Indians alike. Here, from award-winning historian David Lavender, is their enduring story.
As the loaded wagons rumble down the streets of Springfield, Illinois, an air of foreboding sweeps over those who watch the procession. The prosperous Donner brothers and their friend, confident in their preparations, are leading their numerous children and grandchildren on a treacherous 2,500-mile trek to California. Trusting an overly optimistic guidebook, the Donner Party sets out for the Promised Land in May of 1846-unaware that they're following only rumor-fueled speculations. But after betting their lives on a bogus shortcut, the starving travelers soon struggle to survive the November snows of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Praying for a miraculous rescue, 48 of the original 88 escape certain death by living off the flesh of their dead comrades. Twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, acclaimed historian David Lavender has penned more than two dozen histories-many still considered the definitive works on their subjects. In this riveting saga of hardship, death, and survival, George Guidall's masterful narration holds listeners in rapt attention. "A precise, dispassionate, horrifying account of the Donner party's disastrous trek to California that will have readers counting their blessings.this book is the fullest treatment yet for younger readers."-Kirkus Reviews