The Best Land Under Heaven: The Donner Party in the Age of Manifest Destiny [EPUB]
21 June 2017, 20:55
2017 | EPUB | 25.92MB
Cutting through 160 years of mythmaking, best-selling historian Michael Wallis presents the ultimate cautionary tale of America’s westward expansion.
"WESTWARD HO! FOR OREGON AND CALIFORNIA!"
In the eerily warm spring of 1846, George Donner placed this advertisement in a local newspaper as he and a restless caravan prepared for what they hoped would be the most rewarding journey of a lifetime. But in eagerly pursuing what would a century later become known as the "American dream," this optimistic-yet-motley crew of emigrants was met with a chilling nightmare; in the following months, their jingoistic excitement would be replaced by desperate cries for help that would fall silent in the deadly snow-covered mountains of the Sierra Nevada.
We know these early pioneers as the Donner Party, a name that has elicited horror since the late 1840s. Now, celebrated historian Michael Wallis―beloved for his myth-busting portraits of legendary American figures―continues his life’s work of parsing fact from fiction to tell the true story of one of the most embroidered sagas in Western history.
Wallis begins the story in 1846, a momentous "year of decision" for the nation, when incredible territorial strides were being made in Texas, New Mexico, and California. Against this dramatic backdrop, an unlikely band of travelers appeared, stratified in age, wealth, education and ethnicity. At the forefront were the Donners: brothers George and Jacob, true sons of the soil determined to tame the wild land of California; and the Reeds, headed by adventurous, business-savvy patriarch James. In total, the Donner-Reed group would reach eighty-seven men, women, and children, and though personal motives varied―bachelors thirsting for adventure, parents wanting greater futures for their children―everyone was linked by the same unwavering belief that California was theirs for the taking.
Skeptical of previous accounts of how the group ended up in peril, Wallis has spent years retracing its ill-fated journey, uncovering hundreds of new documents that illuminate how a combination of greed, backbiting, and recklessness led the group to become hopelessly snowbound at the infamous Donner Pass in present-day California. Climaxing with the grim stories of how the party’s paltry rations soon gave way to unimaginable hunger, Wallis not only details the cannibalism that has in perpetuity haunted their legacy but also the heroic rescue parties that managed to reach the stranded, only to discover that just forty-eight had survived the ordeal.
An unflinching and historically invaluable account of the darkest side of Manifest Destiny, The Best Land Under Heaven offers a brilliant, revisionist examination of one of America's most calamitous and sensationalized catastrophes.
Titanic: Building The World's Most Famous Ship [EPUB]
21 June 2017, 20:42
2013 | EPUB | 30.91MB
When she set sail on her doomed maiden voyage in April 1912, RMS Titanic was the jewel in the crown of the White Star Line, a company that American tycoon J. P. Morgan had acquired a decade earlier. The executives at White Star competed fiercely in the ocean liner market, prioritizing luxury and comfort over speed. A floating palace, Titanic was the largest and most technologically advanced moving object in the world. It spent barely five days at sea, but a skilled workforce of thousands of men and women had spent years building the ship in a remarkable feat of design and engineering.
Here is the story of the riveters, who risked deafness from hammering millions of rivets that held together the enormous steel hull; the engineers, who had the gargantuan task of fitting engines to power the massive ship across the Atlantic at 23 knots; the electricians, who installed state-of-the-art communications systems and enormous steam driven generators, each capable of powering the equivalent of 400 modern homes; the carpenters, cabinet makers, and artisans who labored over every last detail of the opulent state rooms; and so many more. From the engine room to the ball room, here is a testament to those who designed, built, and fitted the “ship of dreams.”
Marriages Are Made in Bond Street: True Stories from a 1940s Marriage Bureau [EPUB]
20 June 2017, 11:39
2017 | EPUB | 10.73MB
In the spring of 1939, with the Second World War looming, two determined twenty-four-year-olds, Heather Jenner and Mary Oliver, decided to open a marriage bureau. They found a tiny office on London's Bond Street and set about the delicate business of match-making. Drawing on the bureau's extensive archives, Penrose Halson - who many years later found herself the proprietor of the bureau - tells their story, and those of their clients. We meet a remarkable cross-section of British society in the 1940s: gents with a 'merry twinkle', potential fifth-columnists, nervous spinsters, isolated farmers seeking 'a nice quiet affekshunate girl' and girls looking 'exactly' like Greta Garbo and Vivien Leigh, all desperately longing to find 'The One'. And thanks to Heather and Mary, they almost always did just that.
A riveting glimpse of life and love during and after the war, Marriages Are Made in Bond Street is a heart-warming, touching and thoroughly absorbing account of a world gone by.