The Ungodly Author:Richard Rhodes In the Year 1846 men took their families west to California and a new life. The families of the Donner Party were among them. — Sever hundred wagons set out from Independence, Missouri, to follow the California Trail nearly 2,000 miles across unpopulated prairies,up sluggish and seemingly endless rivers, and through the Rocky Mountains over the ... more »Continental Divide. There, where the water flowed west to the far Pacific, the more prudent emigrants swung north through present-day Idaho, though that was the longer way west. But the Donner Party, braver or more foolhardy than the rest, chose an untried route that would shorten the distance.
It did. It also subjected them to obstacles so formidable that it cost many of them their lives. Yet it preserved their names and the story of their travail down through history-crowded years - monuments unlike any others to the great wilderness adventure of conquering the West. No work of fiction had rendered this remarkable epic of ordeal with more vividness and power than Richard Rhodes' novel of the Donner Party, The Ungodly.
The land yielded grudgingly. The Donners spent thirty days cutting through forty miles of canyons. The Great Salt Desert, destroying their cattle, made rich men poor and strained the resources of the entire party. They struggled through shortening days and chilling nights, and reached the brink of their destination, the eastern slope ofthe towering Sierra Nevada that guarded the sweet, rich valleys of California, by the end of October. And then disaster.« less