The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride

The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride

by Daniel James Brown
4.3 68

Paperback(Large Print)

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Overview

The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride by Daniel James Brown

In April of 1846, Sarah Graves was twenty-one and in love with a young man who played the violin. But she was torn. Her mother, father, and eight siblings were about to disappear over the western horizon forever, bound for California. Sarah could not bear to see them go out of her life, and so days before the planned departure she married the young man with the violin, and the two of them threw their lot in with the rest of Sarah's family. On April 12, they rolled out of the yard of their homestead in three ox-drawn wagons.

Seven months later, after joining a party of emigrants led by George Donner, Sarah and her family arrived at Truckee Lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains just as the first heavy snows of the season closed the pass ahead of them. After a series of desperate attempts to cross the mountains, the party improvised cabins and slaughtered what remained of their emaciated livestock. By early December they were beginning to starve.

Sarah's father, a Vermonter, was the only member of the party familiar with snowshoes. Under his instruction, fifteen sets of snowshoes were hastily constructed from oxbows and rawhide, and on December 15, Sarah and fourteen other relatively young, healthy people set out for California on foot, hoping to get relief for the others. Over the next thirty-two days they endured almost unfathomable hardships and horrors.

In this gripping narrative, Daniel James Brown takes the reader along on every painful footstep of Sarah's journey. Along the way, he weaves into the story revealing insights garnered from a variety of modern scientific perspectives–psychology, physiology, forensics, and archaeology–producing a tale that is not only spell-binding but richly informative.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061774737
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/19/2009
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 576
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Daniel James Brown is the author of The Boys in the Boat and Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894. He lives in the country east of Redmond, Washington, with his wife and two daughters.

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The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 68 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has been years since I have found a book that I literally could not pull myself away from. This is it! Daniel James Brown is a gifted author who obviously spent a great deal of time researching not only the Donner Party, but countless other aspects of American life in the mid-1800's, even going so far as to physically re-trace the steps of these courageous pioneers when current weather conditions concurred with those they had endured on their 2000-mile trek to a new life in little-known California. Brown uses, and completely notates, numerous resources to substantiate his historical documentations and uses modern-day forensics and science to bring this tragic story to life. The contents of this book will stay with you as you meet its characters, who Brown transforms from vague names in an American History textbook to real-life families, neighbors, people you might have known in 1846.
BanbaOir More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up expecting little by way of originality given the topic, but upon a friend's recommendation, gave it a chance. This book was a bit slow at first, but pulled me in with every turn of a page, and in the end, I cried for what happened to the lives it brought to life, for despite the span of decades, the emotions shared are, in the end, shared by all of us and easy to feel when written as well as this book has been...well worth reading, even for the high school crowd,...this will forever maintain a place of honour in my library.
TexasReaderTX More than 1 year ago
Much misinformation is unfortunately available about what has come to be known as "The Donner Party." Daniel Brown has done considerable research on what happened to it in 1946-7. If you have time to read only one book on the subject, read this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As did others, I learned about the Donner Party in History classes. Yet, how many of us truly knew the soul-searching and gut wrenching decision these people faced, all in an effort for survival? I venture to say not many of us. Perhaps, it's because merely the mention of "cannibalism" is enough to shut down further thinking. Brown takes an interesting tact to further illuminate the struggles for mere survival the members of the Donner Party faced - Brown has the reader "walk" in the shoes of one of the members, a young gal married days before heading West with her parents and siblings. This, alone, puts a human face to this tragedy. To gain a new perspective and respect for these pioneers, I highly recommend this book, one that does not read like a History lesson. Then, put yourself in the shoes of any of one of the Party's members: What decision would you make merely to survive?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are so many books available on the Donner Party disaster of 1846/1847. If you read only one, this should be it! The Donner Party epic could be a very gruesome and depressing read but the author, Daniel James Brown tempers the gore that one should expect when reading about the Donner Party and fills that void with fact, medical knowledge, and psychological analysis. The reader will feel the cold, feel the pain, and experience the anguish of one Sarah Graves as she struggles to survive. Unlike other books, this book continues with the survivors life story even after the rescue. Five Stars is not enough of a rating for this incredible story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is definitely the most indepth and well researched story about the Donner party. He takes you, via the story and his travels to the places that the party traveled and gives you an insight into the lives of the travelers before their journey started and how they lived out the remainder of their lives. Good story and definitely worth reading.
KayKayNH More than 1 year ago
I remembered little from school history lessons about the Donner Party other than "caught in the mountains" and "cannibilism". This was a very good history of what came to be known as the Donner Party crossing; a very harrowing account, and gives much food for thought. This was a "perfect storm" of events that transpired to create a human tragedy that really could have happened to anyone in that situation. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Indifferent Stars is a riveting account of the limits to which human endurance can be pushed. To anyone who has ever heard tales of tehe Donner party or who thinks they have reached the breaking point it is a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a lover of non-fiction, but this is impossible to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Would never have read a story about the Donner Party, but I like the author. Was not disapppointed. Really enjoy this "other Dan Brown"; he has a nice way with words, does his research, and puts thing in perspective. Loved "The Boys in the Boat"; glad I bought this one too.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I have read other stories of the Donner Party including the original by C.F. McGlashan. Wasn't sure what to expect with this version. From the very first page I was hooked and had a hard time putting it down. Love how the author did so much research on the topic. Not only did he tell their tragic story, but incorporated it with what was going on in the US and California during that time. The history behind the economy of the US, the history of California gave me a much better understanding of the reason for their emigration west. Even though I grew up in California and have been to Truckee many times, I learned so much about this area that I had never learned before.
elmwood43 More than 1 year ago
Excellent read. More like a novel than non-fiction. Lots of background on the story - how stress, cold, fear, hunger, affect our bodies. The author not only researched the facts involved, but also travelled the same trail that these pioneers took. I came away with a profound respect for their strength and determination. I'm not sure any of us today could begin to live the lives they did. I could barely put the book down.
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csheryl More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book immensely; it is a compassionate and detailed account of the Donner party's history from the time they left the Midwest, until their harrowing ordeal in the Sierra; and tells stories of the survivors who were rescued. Writer includes personal reflections as he retraces the path of the pioneers, which I found compelling and endearing.
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Most of us who have traveled to the West are familiar with Donner Pass. This book is an eye opener and a must read for anyone to understand the history of the development of the West.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago