Skip to content
Paperback The Plains Across: The Overland Emigrants and the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-60 Book

ISBN: 0252009681

ISBN13: 9780252009686

The Plains Across: The Overland Emigrants and the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-60

Select Format

Select Condition ThriftBooks Help Icon


Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

Save $9.16!
List Price $14.95

1 Available

Book Overview

The most honored book ever released by the University of Illinois Press, The Plains Across was the result of more than a decade's work by its author. Here, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Oregon Trail, is a paperback reissue that includes the notes, bibliography, and illustrations contained in the 1979 cloth edition.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

no title

Absolutely fascinating book about the pioneers who went west, either for gold or a better life. Read most of it while camping in the Boundary Waters. Took author ten years of research. Was his doctoral dissertation. Pioneers were not as alone, nor Indians as bad, as history has made them. 1840 trip was much harder than 1860. Things really changed fast. One man drove 1500 turkeys west!

A Memorial to a Fine Historian

The Plains Across is a remarkable book, a nearly unrevised dissertation that is nevertheless a thoroughly readable synthesis of the overland migration to the American West, 1840-1860. It's a pity that Unruh never had the chance to further rework this manuscript after so diligently honing his craft during the eight years of research and writing it took to complete his dissertation. The least interesting chapters come first: long, pedestrian surveys of public opinion about the Trans-Mississippi West. More compelling is the chapter on emigrant-Indian interaction, which Unruh proves was considerably less violent and more mutually beneficial than the later myth of unremitting conflict suggests. Unruh's discussion of emigrant-Mormon relations is too apologetic for Mormon behavior, but the chapter nevertheless explains well why overlanders and Saints often came into conflict. To my mind, the best chapters are the final ones that chronicle the significant assistance that overlanders received from the West Coast. Not only did earlier emigrants extend aid for its public relations value in the struggle to increase local populations, there was also a remarkable amount of pure humanitarian assistance, sometimes granted at considerable personal sacrifice. The last chapter, "The Overlanders in Historical Perspective," is a fine summary of the emigrant experience. The Plains Across is now more than twenty-five years old, but it is still the standard history of the Trans-Mississippi migration. As one of Unruh's friends wrote, "It is sorrowful beyond expression that this book must stand as a posthumous memorial to [the author], rather than as the beginning of an outstanding professional career."

Par excellence

An exceptional in-depth study of the Oregon/California Emigrant Trail. Each chapter is thoroughly researched and written very well, with excerpts from the overlanders' journals and diaries, along with references from various newspapers throughout the country. The reader is first introduced to the political and social ramifications from the news media of the pros and cons of overland travel to Oregon and California. Next, Unruh unravels the "whys" as to the emigrants' desire to pursue such an endeavor, risking loss of everything, including possibly life itself. We also get a feel for how the overlanders got along with each other; their relations with Indians; the battles of overcoming hunger, thirst, cold, etc. There is also mention of private entrepreneurs along the trail who were trading and selling goods at exorbitant prices; the "white Indians" who were white men masqueraded as Indians taking advantage of the emigrants; the Mormon influence throughout the Salt Lake area, along with the "Winter Mormons" who were average non-Mormon emigrants wishing to overwinter in Salt Lake but subjected to cruel and unjust treatments. Then the federal goverment comes into the picture by improving roads, establishing forts along the way and implementing troops to guide and protect the overlanders to safety. We read detailed descriptions of how west coast assistance was a major factor in helping settlers make that final push into either Oregon or California. The book is totally amazing! A definite page turner. Even if one is not into Western U.S. history, this book will make one look at the hardships, perils and sacrifices these people overcame to establish a new life for themselves, families, friends and relatives.

Very Very Thorough

This is an excellent book for learning the intricate details of the Oregon Trail crossings. Mr. Unruh has obviously done his research.
Copyright © 2023 Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Do Not Sell My Personal Information | Cookie Preferences | Accessibility Statement
ThriftBooks® and the ThriftBooks® logo are registered trademarks of Thrift Books Global, LLC
GoDaddy Verified and Secured