Thursday, October 24, 2019 - 6:30pm
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Houston, TX 77005

For decades, the West was the fount of American dreams and where many who sought that dream were left gravely disappointed. The West was the land of opportunity shrouded in myth. Foremost was the myth of rugged individualism, and yet nowhere was the hand of the federal government as ubiquitous and decisive as in the West.

When Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801, the country's population was expanding and he judged that America's territory must expand too. Then Napoleon made the stunning offer to sell all of Louisiana to the United States. Jefferson accepted, and quickly dispatched two explorers, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, to find a passage across the new territory to the Pacific.

In DREAMS OF EL DORODO (Basic Books; Oct. 22, 2019), acclaimed historian and bestselling author H. W. Brands tells the sweeping story of the American West through the experiences of the men and women who headed into this new territory. He introduces us to mountain men, cowboys, missionaries, and soldiers; he takes us on the Oregon Trail, to John Jacob Astor's fur trading outpost in the Pacific Northwest, to Texas during its revolution and California during the gold rush, and to Little Big Horn on the day of Custer's defeat at the hands of the Indian general Crazy Horse. Not every American who went west sought immense wealth, but most expected more than they could find in the East. Their dreams drove them to feats of courage and perseverance that put their stay-at-home cousins to shame; they also drove them to outrageous acts of violence against indigenous peoples, foreigners, and one another.

Throughout, Brands explodes longstanding tropes, reorienting our view of the West and of American history more broadly. The West was America's unspoiled Eden, but the spoilage of the West proceeded more rapidly than that of any other region. It was where whites fought Indians, but they rarely went into battle without Indian allies, and their ranks included black soldiers. It was where fortune beckoned, but El Dorado was at least as elusive in the West as it ever was in the East.

A deeply engrossing work of narrative history, this new account will change how we think about the making of America.

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Dreams of El Dorado: A History of the American West Cover Image
ISBN: 9781541672529
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Basic Books - October 22nd, 2019