Desperate Passage (Nonfiction) Ethan Rarick (Oxford University Press, $26), Hardcover.

Ethan Rarick
Ethan Rarick

The Donner Party, a group of 1846 California-bound settlers who separated from a larger wagon train, took an ill-advised trail into the Sierra Nevada range too late in the year. Stranded by the vicious winter storms that fell upon them, 81 members experienced worsening conditions of deep snows, freezing cold, sickness and starvation until they resorted to the ultimate act of cannibalism to survive. Months later, only 45 of them made it out of the mountains. For anyone who has never read any lengthy details about this unforgettable nightmare, Rarick’s book is well-researched and analytical than any others on the topic you’ll find.

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