Dreams of El Dorado: A History of the American West

January 7, 2020 - Comment

“Epic in its scale, fearless in its scope” (Hampton Sides), this balanced, authoritative, and masterfully told account of the American West from a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist sets a new standard as it sweeps from the California Gold Rush to the Texas Revolution and beyond.In Dreams of El Dorado, H. W. Brands tells the thrilling,

“Epic in its scale, fearless in its scope” (Hampton Sides), this balanced, authoritative, and masterfully told account of the American West from a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist sets a new standard as it sweeps from the California Gold Rush to the Texas Revolution and beyond.
In Dreams of El Dorado, H. W. Brands tells the thrilling, panoramic story of the settling of the American West. He takes us from John Jacob Astor’s fur trading outpost in Oregon to the Texas Revolution, from the California gold rush to the Oklahoma land rush. He shows how the migrants’ dreams drove them to feats of courage and perseverance that put their stay-at-home cousins to shame-and how those same dreams also drove them to outrageous acts of violence against indigenous peoples and one another. The West was where riches would reward the miner’s persistence, the cattleman’s courage, the railroad man’s enterprise; but El Dorado was at least as elusive in the West as it ever was in the East.

Balanced, authoritative, and masterfully told, Dreams of El Dorado sets a new standard for histories of the American West.

Comments

Anonymous says:

Enjoyable episodic history, with need for more perspective and maps I’ve read a stack of Western histories, and this one I enjoyed. It gives an often blow-by-blow (quite literally) account of how the West was explored, especially conquered, with details about aspects not often covered in other books, such as the journey to Oregon by the Whitmans. It can also be overly specific and wordy at times. We don’t need so many details of verbal exchanges between adversaries, for instance. We need less of the what, and more of the so what—what makes that episode…

Anonymous says:

H. W. Brands offers a panoramic view of the settlement of the American West Noted historian H. W. Brands offers a panoramic view of the settlement of the American West, expounding intelligently on its better-known aspects and expanding many little-known vignettes that bring it to human scale.Thomas Jefferson was conflicted about the Louisiana Purchase, unsure that such a deal was within the purview of the remarkable governmental structure he had just helped to fashion. But when he offered 10 million dollars for New Orleans, Napoleon made him an offer he…

Anonymous says:

Excellent survey of the conquest of the Old West DREAMS OF EL DORADO is not only very well-written, it wisely chooses a “snap shot” approach over a broad survey. Its chapters cover the major events of Westward expansion: Lewis and Clark, the Gold Rush, cattle drives, Native American struggle, the Boomer/Sooner rush to homestead in Oklahoma, etc. The chapters are in rough chronological order, but the author doesn’t overwhelm the reader with a tsunami of dates and place names. Instead, the reader is treated to a colorful depiction of major…

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