Lions of the West:
Heroes and Villains of the Westward Expansion
by Robert Morgan
From Thomas Jefferson’s birth in 1743 to the California Gold Rush in 1849, America’s westward expansion comes to life in the hands of a writer fascinated by the way individual lives link up, illuminate one another, and collectively impact history.
Jefferson, a naturalist and visionary, dreamed that the United States would stretch across the North American 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 stories—and those of the nameless thousands who risked their lives to settle on the frontier, displacing thou- sands of Native Americans—form an extraordinary chapter in American history that led directly to the cataclysm of the Civil War. Filled with illustrations, portraits, maps, battle plans, notes, and time lines, Lions of the West is a richly authoritative biography of America—its ideals, its promise, its romance, and its destiny.
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
Gap Creek: The Story of a Marriage
Young Julie Harmon works “hard as a man,” they say, so hard that at times she’s not sure she can stop. People depend on her to slaughter the hogs and nurse the dying. People are weak, and there is so much to do. At just seventeen she marries and moves down into the valley of Gap Creek, where perhaps life will be better.
But Julie and Hank’s new life in the valley, in the last years of the nineteenth century, is more complicated than the couple ever imagined. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what to fear most—the fires and floods or the flesh-and-blood grifters, drunks, and busybodies who insinuate themselves into their new life. To survive, they must find out whether love can keep chaos and madness at bay. Their struggles with nature, with work, with the changing century, and with the disappointments and triumphs of their union make Gap Creek a timeless story of a marriage.
Praise for Gap Creek by Robert Morgan
“Morgan . . . shows what it was like to be human in a time and place now far removed from modern America. He creates living, breathing souls who, as transparent as their dreams and fears may seem today, demand to be taken seriously.” —The Orlando Sentinel
“His stripped-down and almost primitive sentences burn with the raw, lonesome pathos of Hank Williams’s best songs.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Gripping storytelling, indelible sense of time and place . . . Morgan turns the stories of prosaic lives into page-turners.” —The Raleigh News and Observer