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 storiesand those of the nameless thousands who risked their lives to settle on the frontier, displacing thousands of Native Americansform 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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"A vivid, well-conceived look at western expansion in the old narrative-driven school of Bernard DeVoto and Wallace Stegner." - Kirkus Reviews
"[T]he 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." - Publishers Weekly
"The author's analysis reflects the American dream while delivering an unflinching report of our nation's imperialist attitudes and effects. Historians and general readers alike will appreciate the accuracy of this significant literary anthology." - Forewords Reviews
"Robert Morgan, prolific novelist and poet of the American West, again turns his hand to writing history in this collection of vivid portraits and engaging anecdotes of famous personalities of the westward expansion." - Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer Prize winning author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848
"Robert Morgan has found a most engaging way to envision and explain American expansion from early nationhood until the eve of Civil War. Fourscore years come alive through biographical vignettes that pull no punches. The project is meditative rather than celebratory. Hispanic responses to the consequences of Manifest Destiny are made stunningly clear. Nation-building accrued human costs as well as remarkable heroes - all revealed with Morgan's customary grace and flair. This is engrossing as well as judicious history, narrated by a writer who knows the terrain first hand." - Michael Kammen, Pulitzer Prize winning author of People of Paradox and Mystic Chords of Memory
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Robert Morgan was raised on his family's farm in the North Carolina mountains. He is the author of eleven books of poetry, three books of nonfiction, and eight books of fiction, including the bestselling novel Gap Creek. He lives in Ithaca, New York, where he teaches at Cornell University. He won the Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature in 2007.
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