#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • #1 Indie Next Pick • Winner of the PEN New England Award
“Enchanting…A book filled with so much love…Long before Oregon, Rinker Buck has convinced us that the best way to see America is from the seat of a covered wagon.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Amazing…A real nonfiction thriller.” —Ian Frazier, The New York Review of Books
“Absorbing…Winning…The many layers in The Oregon Trail are linked by Mr. Buck’s voice, which is alert and unpretentious in a manner that put me in mind of Bill Bryson’s comic tone in A Walk in the Woods.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
A major bestseller that has been hailed as a “quintessential American story” (Christian Science Monitor), Rinker Buck’s The Oregon Trail is an epic account of traveling the 2,000-mile length of the Oregon Trail the old-fashioned way—in a covered wagon with a team of mules—that has captivated readers, critics, and booksellers from coast to coast. Simultaneously a majestic journey across the West, a significant work of history, and a moving personal saga, Buck’s chronicle is a “laugh-out-loud masterpiece” (Willamette Week) that “so ensnares the emotions it becomes a tear-jerker at its close” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis) and “will leave you daydreaming and hungry to see this land” (The Boston Globe).
Despite growing up on the East Coast, Buck's (Flight of Passage) fondest childhood memories are of going on family trips with his eccentric father, who insisted on "seeing America slowly" by traveling and camping out in a covered wagon. These trips ignited a lust for travel and history that stuck with Buck, and that came roaring back when he found out that the Oregon Trail is meticulously preserved and traversable. Buck and his foul-mouthed handyman brother, Nick, set out to follow the 2,000-mile path, with only a covered wagon and mule team as their mode of transportation. The ensuing tale combines the brothers' personal narrative with the remarkable history of the trail, including written accounts from the pioneers who braved it. What could have been a set of rote diary entries is anything but, as Buck's enthusiasm for the often arduous trip, coupled with his honest assessment of poor judgments and mistakes along the way, makes for an entertaining and enlightening account of one of America's most legendary migrations. Even readers who don't know a horse from a mule will find themselves swept up in this inspiring and masterful tale of perseverance and the pioneer spirit. Illus.