Charles Redd Monographs in Western History, No. 9. Provo, Utah
Brigham Young University Press
Reviews the nature of the trail followed by the Mormons on their overland journey to Utah in the pre-railraod years. Says that the image of great suffering and death is exagerrated, for this was the exception more than the rule. Covers typical organization for the journey, experiences along the trail, descriptions of the trail (vegitation, climate, landmarks, passes, scenic views). 'The important question is why the enjoyment and the favorable reactions of the typical Mormon migrant to the overland journey are not reflected in the official accoutns, which detail the great difficulty of crossing a 'deseret' area. The primary causes seem to involve the normal tendency to magnify events as they are recollected later, combined with rhetoric of leaders describing an event which was manifestly deserving of accolade. The Mormon achievemnt in moving some 60,000 souls across the plains [from 1847 to 1869]. . . is of heroic magnitude. When described later, the importance of the symbolic nature of the overland trip led to the magnification of its difficulty. . . . 'The tendency for hyperbole to surround a heroic event when it is publicly recounted was accented by the disaster which did strike some of the handcart companies. . . . But the achievement of those thousands of migrants who did not die, who walked over a thousand miles through dust, rain, cold, and sun, is no less heroic. . . . Their accomplishment was epic enough: it need not be embroidered with raging deserts.'