Rinker Buck, The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015. 450 pp. Cloth, $28; e-book, $14.99. Can there be a more iconic American image than that of a pioneer wagon crossing the Great Plains? For Rinker Buck, someone who "brakes by rote at every historical marker" (5), the answer is an emphatic no. Inspired by a monthlong family covered-wagon trip in New Jersey and Pennsylvania led by his eccentric father when he was a child, Buck reveals that as a result of that journey "travel became my endorphin" (12). Along with his brother, Nick, and his charming terrier, Olive Oyl, the threesome set out to make the first authentic crossing of the Oregon Trail in over a century, from Missouri to Oregon, on a restored Peter Schuttler wagon pulled by three mules. A sign on the back of their "Trail Pup" (a short auxiliary wagon hauling additional supplies) proclaimed their mission: to "see america slowly." Reflecting the author's voracious reading of Trail history, the account is replete with excerpts from nineteenth-century pioneer journals as well as facts and myths of The Trail. There was never a single Oregon Trail, Buck points out, with
Western American Literature – The Western Literature Association
Published: Jul 3, 2016
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