Heroes and Villains of the Westward Expansion
From Thomas Jefferson’s birth in 1743 to the California Gold rush in 1849, America’s Manifest destiny comes to life in Robert Morgan’s skilled hands. Jefferson, a naturalist and visionary, dreamed that the United States would stretch across the continent from ocean to ocean. The account of how that dream became reality unfolds in the stories of Jefferson and nine other Americans whose adventurous spirits and lust for land pushed the westward boundaries: Andrew Jackson, John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman, David Crockett, Sam Houston, James K. Polk, Winfield Scott, Kit Carson, Nicholas Trist, and John Quincy Adams. Their tenacity was matched only by that of their enemies—the Mexican army under Santa Anna at the Alamo, the Comanche and Apache Indians, and the forbidding geography itself.
Known also for his powerful fiction (Gap Creek, The Truest Pleasure, Brave Enemies), Morgan uses his skill at characterization to give life to the personalities of these ten Americans without whom the United States might well have ended at the Arkansas border. Their stories—and those of the nameless thousands who risked their lives to settle on the frontier, displacing thousands of Native Americans—form an extraordinary chapter in American history that led directly to the cataclysm of the Civil War.
With illustrations, portraits, maps, battle plans, appendixes, notes, and time lines, Lions of the West is a richly authoritative biography of America as compelling as a grand novel.
Praise for Lions of the West by Robert Morgan:
“What a marvelous take on Thomas Jefferson’s Westward Expansion Movement! In a sense Robert Mogan’s Lions of the West is a sequel to Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage about Lewis and Clark. Morgan brilliantly showcases such outlandish characters as Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Johnny Appleseed, Winfield Scott and many others. Morgan proves once again to be an incredible prose stylist. This is a love song to the raw back pages of American frontier democracy. Highly recommended.”—Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America
“Robert Morgan, prolific novelist and poet of the American West, again turns his hand to writing history in this collection of vivid portraits and engaging anecdotes of famous personalities of the westward expansion.”—Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer Prize winning author of WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848
“Robert Morgan has found a most engaging way to envision and explain American expansion from early nationhood until the eve of Civil War. Fourscore years come alive through biographical vignettes that pull no punches. The project is meditative rather than celebratory. Hispanic responses to the consequences of Manifest Destiny are made stunningly clear. Nation-building accrued human costs as well as remarkable heroes—all revealed with Morgan’s customary grace and flair. This is engrossing as well as judicious history, narrated by a writer who knows the terrain first hand.”—Michael Kammen, Pulitzer Prize winning author of PEOPLE OF PARADOX and MYSTIC CHORDS OF MEMORY
“With verve and insight, and without imposing modern day sensibilities on events, Robert Morgan tells the absorbing story of the American conquest of the lands between the Appalachians and the Pacific through the lives and deeds of movers and shakers of their times, some well known, others dimly remembered, a few all but forgotten. This is a splendid work and deserves a large reading audience.”—JOHN BUCHANAN, author of JACKSON’S WAY: Andrew Jackson and the People of the Western Waters
Robert Morgan was raised on his family’s farm in the North Carolina mountains. The author of eleven books of poetry and eight books of fiction, including the bestselling novel Gap Creek. Winner of a 2007 Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, he lives in Ithaca, New York, where he teaches at Cornell University.