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Lions of the West

Cover of Lions of the West

Lions of the West

From Thomas Jefferson’s birth in 1743 to the California Gold rush in 1849, America’s Manifest destiny comes to life in Robert Morgan’s skilled hands. Jefferson, a naturalist and visionary, dreamed that the United States would stretch across the continent from ocean to ocean. The account of how that dream became reality unfolds in the stories of Jefferson and nine other Americans whose adventurous spirits and lust for land pushed the westward boundaries: Andrew Jackson, John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman, David Crockett, Sam Houston, James K. Polk, Winfield Scott, Kit Carson, Nicholas Trist, and John Quincy Adams. Their tenacity was matched only by that of their enemies—the Mexican army under Santa Anna at the Alamo, the Comanche and Apache Indians, and the forbidding geography itself.

Known also for his powerful fiction (Gap Creek, The Truest Pleasure, Brave Enemies), Morgan uses his skill at characterization to give life to the personalities of these ten Americans without whom the United States might well have ended at the Arkansas border. Their stories—and those of the nameless thousands who risked their lives to settle on the frontier, displacing thousands of Native Americans—form an extraordinary chapter in American history that led directly to the cataclysm of the Civil War.

With illustrations, portraits, maps, battle plans, appendixes, notes, and time lines, Lions of the West is a richly authoritative biography of America as compelling as a grand novel.

From Thomas Jefferson’s birth in 1743 to the California Gold rush in 1849, America’s Manifest destiny comes to life in Robert Morgan’s skilled hands. Jefferson, a naturalist and visionary, dreamed that the United States would stretch across the continent from ocean to ocean. The account of how that dream became reality unfolds in the stories of Jefferson and nine other Americans whose adventurous spirits and lust for land pushed the westward boundaries: Andrew Jackson, John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman, David Crockett, Sam Houston, James K. Polk, Winfield Scott, Kit Carson, Nicholas Trist, and John Quincy Adams. Their tenacity was matched only by that of their enemies—the Mexican army under Santa Anna at the Alamo, the Comanche and Apache Indians, and the forbidding geography itself.

Known also for his powerful fiction (Gap Creek, The Truest Pleasure, Brave Enemies), Morgan uses his skill at characterization to give life to the personalities of these ten Americans without whom the United States might well have ended at the Arkansas border. Their stories—and those of the nameless thousands who risked their lives to settle on the frontier, displacing thousands of Native Americans—form an extraordinary chapter in American history that led directly to the cataclysm of the Civil War.

With illustrations, portraits, maps, battle plans, appendixes, notes, and time lines, Lions of the West is a richly authoritative biography of America as compelling as a grand novel.

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About the Author-
  • ROBERT MORGAN is the author of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, most notably his novel Gap Creek and his biography of Daniel Boone, both of which were national bestsellers. A professor at Cornell University since 1971 and visiting writer-in-residence at half a dozen universities, his awards include Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellowships and an Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. He was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2010. Find him online at robert-morgan.com.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 1, 2011
    Morgan has made the Old West his preserve with the novel Gap Creek and a biography of Daniel Boone. Here he covers considerable ground, both geographical and temporal, tracing the lives of 10 Americans who played significant roles in the country's westward expansion. Morgan's focus is on their personalities and exploits in securing the West, not in their roles as politicians, which leaves him with a somewhat one-sided portrait of Andrew Jackson. But in general he builds well-rounded portraits, beginning with Thomas Jefferson and the seminal exploration of Lewis and Clark, and ending with John Quincy Adams, a critic of the western expansion until his death in 1848. Three chapters on the Mexican-American War focus on three individuals involved in the controversial but successful endeavor—President James Polk, Gen. Winfred Scott, and the lesser-known Nicholas Trist, chief negotiator of the final treaty. Morgan is best when describing the many battles fought to secure the west. Sam Houston's confrontation with Mexican general Santa Ana is especially vivid. And the author's sympathetic and thoughtful essay on Kit Carson ruminates on the moral challenges raised by westward expansion. Readers interested in the Old West will be rewarded.

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    Algonquin Books
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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