The Indifferent Stars Above invites you to imagine that you’re trapped. The snow is falling down and you’re stuck in the mountains with dwindling food, limited supplies, and no modern conveniences. The only way for you to call for help is to climb a mountain and hope you find help on the other side. Or you could stay where you are, camp, and hope that the snow melts before you starve.
Either way, there’s a high chance you and your family will die. So… what do you do?
This really puts the whole Oregon Trail game into a different light, doesn’t it?
The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party
by Daniel James Brown
[April 28, 2009]
The Pitch: In April of 1846, pioneers set out to a better future and instead found themselves trapped in the mountains, quickly descending into horror and madness.
A series of unfortunate events and bad choices like few people ever see. The book focuses on Sarah Graves, newly married and deeply in love, as she travels across the country with her family.
A horror story that’s more horrific because it’s true, the Donner Party’s tragedy has become American legend. This book cuts through the ghosts to put together the most complete narrative of the tragedy ever written.
4.19 out of 5 on Goodreads
I cannot stress enough that these books are about real life people. The Indifferent Stars Above reads in part like a horror novel. It gets to the point where the horror of their situation is so strong that it pushes the story into unreal territory. The human mind wasn’t made to handle events like this, it feels unreal. That said, it really did happen and the story is fascinating.
Reading The Indifferent Stars Above (horror aside) is incredibly easy. I love the way that Brown writes. A nonfiction book that reads like fiction, you’ll find it easy to get pulled into the tragic story of the Donner Party. Once I got started, it was hard to put it down.
Beyond that, the little details of frontier life and what it would be like to live out of that wagon for a trip from Illinois to California will transport you to that time.
We’d all like to say that there’s no way whatsoever that we’d ever eat a person, but given the right circumstances? Who knows what we’d do.
Who Should Read The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of the Donner Party?
For anyone who loved playing the Oregon Trail when they were younger.
Also, for anyone who is into true crime or historical disasters, this book is a must read. It’s fascinating on so many levels. Even if you’re into reading about the Frontier Era of American expansion, this is well worth your time. It’s got just the right balance of spectacle and grounded reality to make it an instant favourite for me.
For those of you who are on the fence, I highly recommend reading the Wikipedia article or Caitlyn Doughty’s excellent summary of the events. If you can make it through those, you’ll make it fine through the book. Knowing the end of the story doesn’t take away from the book at all. The Indifferent Stars Above is rich with historical details that will keep you reading.
4.5 out of 5 from TrulyBooked
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