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The Indifferent Stars Above


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About the Author

Daniel James Brown is the author of The Boys in the Boat and Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894. He lives in the country east of Redmond, Washington, with his wife and two daughters.


In April 1846, as young newlywed Sarah Graves departed her Illinois home on a journey to California, she could not foresee the misery and horror that awaited her. After numerous delays on their difficult westward path, she and her family found themselves dangerously behind schedule as winter loomed, and they decided to join an ill-fated wagon train under the leadership of George Donner. Ending up snowbound and starving in the Sierra Nevada range, the Donner party descended into cannibalism, a well-known and grisly episode of pioneer history. Given a fresh and intriguing telling here thanks to the supple, readable, and well-researched narrative by Brown (former managing editor, Microsoft Corp.; Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894), Graves's dark tale is engrossing and appalling in equal measure. Never melodramatic or maudlin, Brown's work gracefully balances graphic depictions of extreme privation with humanizing glimpses of the emigrants' everyday hopes and fears. Brown also skillfully weaves relevant historical, cultural, and scientific information into his chronicle, creating a rich and contextualized background. Likely to appeal to true adventure and history fans, who may also like Frank Mullen's The Donner Party Chronicles, this work is strongly recommended for larger public libraries.-Ingrid Levin, Salve Regina Univ. Lib., Newport, RI Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"A compelling retelling of the ghastly events surrounding the Donner party. Daniel James Brown, using one survivor's experience as his focus, moves beyond the cardboard figures depicted in previous accounts and shows how the lucky few endured and survived."--Irvin Molotsky, author of The Flag, The Poet and the Song: The Story of the Star-Spangled Banner
"In this gripping narrative, Brown reveals the extremes of endurance that underlie the history of this nation, and more than that, of humanity in any part of the world, even today, surviving great peril in search of a better life."--Nina Burleigh
"Daniel James Brown brings the myth to life, transforming faint history class memories into gripping reality."--BookPage
"A skillful, suspenseful study of the Donner Party. ... Brown creates a thorough and unique narrative. A moving man-against-nature tragedy that still resonates today."--Kirkus Reviews
"An ideal pairing of talent and material. . . . Engrossing. . . . A deft and endearing storyteller."--Mary Roach, New York Times Book Review
"[Brown] tells the tale with a novelist's touch."--Boston Globe
"Remarkable. ... Hard to put down."--Seattle Times

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