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In 1860, William Henry Brewer joined a team in the very first geological survey of California.
A recent and very young widower, impressionable William wrote letters home, back East, to his brother-- this is his extraordinary diary. Brewer's stories let us look at California in a way that is virtually erased from modern-day eyes.
William's letters are both touching and full of jaw-dropping description, telling of the virgin beauty of the land, the original (and soon to be annihilated) Native culture and relationships he formed, and the beginning of the revolution that would transform California forever.
A primary document like this is priceless and entertaining primary history. It's the kind of story families treasure from generation to generation, saying, “You have to hear about this.” No son or daughter of the West should live without reading this once.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
I completely enjoyed this historical journal of an 1860 botanist on a geological (and biological) survey of California.
This is a long and wondrous journal of travels of a geological and biological expedition by foot, horse, and mule up and down central California juxtaposed against the advent of the telegraph, the railroad, and the civil war.
I have lived at the base of Mt. Whitney (Whitney was an intermittent member of the party) and Mt. Diablo (the summit offering one of the best views on earth) and visited most of the places referenced in these journals thus I did not miss the promised (but not provided) maps of the journey. If you are not familiar with California you may want to have Google maps handy. If you are not into maps, you can simply enjoy the stories of unknown California reviled by this journal. If you are a well traveled Californian, you will greatly appreciate this 1860's view of your own backyard.
Although the protagonist was a liberal for that time, there is significant racism and speciesism (he REALLY wants to kill a grisly bear!)
The narration was excellent with subtle but palpable emotionality that heightened my enjoyment of the journal.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful