Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and the Opening of Old Oregon Volumes I & II --by CM Drury

History / Old Oregon

476 pages, Vol I
435 pages, Vol II, including Appendices & Index
5 Stars

If you are a fan of history, especially that of the opening of the Oregon Country to pioneers, I think these books (there are two Volumes) should be at the top of your "must read" list. Drury is the undisputed authority on the Whitmans and the early members of the Oregon Mission Board who came here (the Spaldings, Eells, Walkers). The Rangers at the Whitman Mission National Historic Site use Drury as their authority and bible. I now understand why.

When I picked Volume I up, and began to read, my eyes began to quickly glaze over. It began as a very dense history book. However, by page 3 or so, I was hooked. Yes, it is dense, yes, it is packed with facts and tidbits and many items of interest, and yes I found myself resenting the times I had to put the books down. When I finished Volume I, I immediately picked up Volume II and began reading.

Volume I contains more information about Narcissa, which is what I was after, but Volume II contains more information about the mission in general and Marcus. The primary focus of these two volumes is, of course, Narcissa and Marcus; however, due to the nature of history, many other people entered the narrative from the Rev. Henry H. Spalding, a rejected suitor of Narcissa, the Indians who invited the Missionaries to come and teach them, to the metis, Joe Lewis the primary instigator of the uprising in which the Whitmans and others were killed.

The only complaint I have about the books, and believe me I had to dig to find one, is the quality of the maps and drawings. I know they were copies of the originals, which weren't all that great to begin with, but they were small. It would have been nice had they at least been full page instead of 80% or whatever. Keep a magnifier handy when reading.

Drury was not only an Historian of merit, but also a minister, a terrific author, and he was able to bring the characters not just to life on the page, but to give us insights into their actions, and thinking.

Highly recommend these two books! Also, there are footnotes. Real footnotes. Not those stupid end notes publishers so love ;-)

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