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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review from Discover Great New Writers
We dare you to read this book and not find yourself reaching over the arm of your chair for an oar while you're at it! An absolutely breathtaking description of the one-armed Civil War veteran John Wesley Powell, his ragtag group of mountain men, and their journey down the Grand Canyon in the 19th century, Edward Dolnick's story is a gripping adventure tale.
The men's plan was a simple one: to explore and make a geological study of the last great mysterious expanse of the American Southwest -- that portion of the map, stretching through the Wyoming, Utah, and Arizona territories -- that was still simply marked "unexplored." Beginning in four wooden rowboats at Green River Station, Wyoming Territory, Powell and his men followed the Green River south to where it joined the Grand River; the two rivers combined to form the mighty Colorado River, on which they would ride to the infinitely alluring Grand Canyon.
It would be impossible to overstate the degree to which Powell's plan was an awe-inspiring leap of faith. He had no way of knowing what perils the unmapped rivers might hold -- 99 days later, six half-starved wretches in just two boats came ashore near Callville, Arizona. A true epic adventure, Down the Great Unknown is as much a tale of human spirit and endurance as it is a thrilling journey back to an extraordinary time in America's history, when geologists first began to question the literal interpretation of Genesis, because "to study the age of rocks was to question the Rock of Ages." (Winter 2002 Selection)