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Dana GoodyearRarick's account is not really about science; it is about humanity, and his major contribution is his choice to focus on the Reed family. In most tellings, the Donners, for obvious reasons, are at the emotional center of the story. Rarick, instead, finds a greater dramatic vehicle in James Reed—"a man with a full head of hair and a bit of a smirk and iron convictions, others be damned"—who traveled with his wife, Margret; her mother (she died on the trail); and four children…Rarick has done his homework—visiting the many archives where primary-source records are available, skillfully synthesizing that great body of material and even traveling the Donner party route himself. His approach to the many conflicting and contradictory accounts is conciliatory.
—The New York Times