"The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey"

Jul 15, 2015

Our guest is the author and former journalist Rinker Buck, whose book, "Flight of Passage," was praised by The New Yorker as "a funny, cocky gem." Buck's new book, which he talks with us about, is "The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey." In this bestselling work, the author and his brother travel the original trail -- over some two-thousand miles -- from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Baker City, Oregon. It's a journey made by mule-pulled wagon, no less -- like the pioneers did, a century ago -- and it lasts four months. In offering this fascinating and panoramic travelogue, Buck also presents a lively work of less-familiar American history. Debunking old myths, profiling forgotten places, celebrating a majestic landscape and its varied people, and at times also offering a critique of those same people, Buck introduces us to bygone explorers, trailblazing evangelists, friendly Indian tribes, female pioneers, and even scam artists who flocked to the frontier in order to rip-off the many west-bound emigrants. As Dwight Garner noted in The New York Times: "Absorbing.... Winning.... The many layers in 'The Oregon Trail' are linked by Mr. Buck’s voice, which is alert and unpretentious in a manner that put me in mind of Bill Bryson's comic tone in 'A Walk in the Woods.'"