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Men to Match My Mountains: The Opening of the Far West 1840-1900

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Stone has created a pageant of stories of the great westward drive.

30 review for Men to Match My Mountains: The Opening of the Far West 1840-1900

  1. 5 out of 5

    The Colonial

    Famed novelist and historian Irving Stone tackles the final years of Westward Expansion with the settling of the “Far West”—or more specifically the states of California, Nevada, Colorado, and Utah. He brings the reader on a journey of epic proportions in the manner of a travelogue, chronicling the different pioneers, settlers, homesteaders, Native tribes, gold miners, cowboys, explorers, and barons met along the way, where he begins his saga in the year 1840. Stone uses the prose and style that Famed novelist and historian Irving Stone tackles the final years of Westward Expansion with the settling of the “Far West”—or more specifically the states of California, Nevada, Colorado, and Utah. He brings the reader on a journey of epic proportions in the manner of a travelogue, chronicling the different pioneers, settlers, homesteaders, Native tribes, gold miners, cowboys, explorers, and barons met along the way, where he begins his saga in the year 1840. Stone uses the prose and style that worked so well in his previous novels, and combines them with factual resources and research in a way that captures the reader’s attention and keeps them interested in each territory or party that subsequently will be discussed. The book is full of both tragic and bewildering experiences, from John C. Frémont and Kit Carson’s epic trailblazing that ranged from St. Louis to the Sierras and Pacific Coast, to the Mountain Meadows Massacre that would prove unsettling for the Mormon religion as a whole and still be regarded as controversial to this day. There are incredible concise biographies littered throughout Stone’s text that provide the reader with enough heavy detail and scope in order to segue on to the next book or history that fancies their curiosity—such as some fascinating tidbits on the Mormon leader Brigham Young: Following Joseph Smith’s original design Young, the city planner, decreed that the streets were to be laid out enormously wide, each house set back so many feet, the fronts to be beautified with fruit trees and gardens; and four public squares of ten acres laid out in various parts of the city for public grounds. Young, the engineer, ordered that water be routed through the streets to carry off all filth; then Young, man of action, set his Saints to building a bower for Sunday services, a road to the canyon to bring out timber, a timber and adobe fort to protect them against Indian raids… Chapters that the reader may find particularly interesting are those relating to the Mormons, as well as the history of the Gold Rush that took over not just California but Colorado as well. It’s surprising to find that the book is still relevant and even modern in its language since its publication from over fifty years ago, and the only caveat here would be Stone’s repetitive reminder to the audience that “the men had matched the mountains” through the various chapters—though this is almost dutifully acknowledged and accepted by the remarkable feats being processed by the reader. For those looking to uncover details on the settling of the western states and those pioneers who helped pave the way—or for a taste of America’s Westward Expansion history—this is an exceptional read to delve into. Illustrations are unfortunately not provided for, however, maps of each territory can be found in the opening pages. Read the Full Review and More

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    This was quite a reading project. I'm sure I didn't retain 10% of the factual history of this book but I did find it fascinating. Living in the west myself, I was surprised at how little I knew about household names (they have streets, buildings and towns named after them) such as Crocker, Stanford and Huntington. Interesting to see what kind of men they were. I particularly enjoyed reading about the transcontinental railroad and the Chinese who were brought over by boat to build it. The Bank of This was quite a reading project. I'm sure I didn't retain 10% of the factual history of this book but I did find it fascinating. Living in the west myself, I was surprised at how little I knew about household names (they have streets, buildings and towns named after them) such as Crocker, Stanford and Huntington. Interesting to see what kind of men they were. I particularly enjoyed reading about the transcontinental railroad and the Chinese who were brought over by boat to build it. The Bank of California was a real piece of work. Corruption in the stock market isn't a new thing. There were so many men and women to admire as well. They literally cleared the way to the west. It was a good reminder of what my pioneer forebearers have done to make my life so luxurious. While I was reading the book, I received a copy of a letter written by my 2 great grandmother written from Sacramento in 1851. Sure collaborated what Irving Stone had written, Sacramento at that time was full of thieves and no place for a lady to be alone (she was young and recently widowed). She quickly remarried a German carpenter, also a widower. I have been to Coloma and Sutter's Fort and the usual tourist spots associated with my area, but would love to see them again and more since reading this book. A very slow, arduous read but very worth the effort. I will probably read it again in the future.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    This is turning out to be a slow read. The book is interesting but I am also struck by how ethnocentric the book is, telling the story of history from a white North American perspective. Native Americans, Californios and Mexicans are only shadow characters in this history. That said, I sometimes found myself fascinated by the events as they unfolded. I learned a lot about the settlement of California, about rail monopolies, mining rushes and the role of real estate speculation in Los Angeles. It This is turning out to be a slow read. The book is interesting but I am also struck by how ethnocentric the book is, telling the story of history from a white North American perspective. Native Americans, Californios and Mexicans are only shadow characters in this history. That said, I sometimes found myself fascinated by the events as they unfolded. I learned a lot about the settlement of California, about rail monopolies, mining rushes and the role of real estate speculation in Los Angeles. It also was very interesting reading about the Mormon settlement of Utah and other portions of the West and their battles to defend polygamy against outsiders and the US Government. This is an excellent book if you want an overview of the settlement period in California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jessica DeWitt

    I have read two Stone novels in the past and have enjoyed them both thoroughly. I expected to enjoy Men to Match My Mountains just as much, and I did, however, it took a while to get into it. As a historian, I found that Stone's manner of writing history was rather jarring at first. I had to get used to his extreme attention to detail and narrative form. It is clear that Stone could have used a good editor for this collection; then again, an editor may have taken away its unique charm. Within th I have read two Stone novels in the past and have enjoyed them both thoroughly. I expected to enjoy Men to Match My Mountains just as much, and I did, however, it took a while to get into it. As a historian, I found that Stone's manner of writing history was rather jarring at first. I had to get used to his extreme attention to detail and narrative form. It is clear that Stone could have used a good editor for this collection; then again, an editor may have taken away its unique charm. Within this book, Stone subscribes to the romanticized version of the West; a land where freedom and hard work built a strong, American character. He describes the Far West as the "hero" of his story. That being said I (one of my fields of expertise is American West history) learned a great deal from this book. The breadth of information provided in the book is astounding. As mentioned before attention to detail is impressive and at times mind-numbing. So many individuals and story lines are interwoven that it is hard to keep track of who is who, what is what, and where is where. Yet the stories provided seem to have something to offer everyone. I found that some chapters kept me riveted, while others I read without truly taking them in or becoming interested in the action. I found the chapters on the Mormons particularly interesting. Overall, I highly recommend this book even though it has its flaws. It is a truly charming piece of history, and the energy and enthusiasm Stone must have had for the project are evident throughout.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    This is a good book to learn about the settling of the West. I believe it gives a balanced perspective. While its hard for me to remember all the facts put forth in the book (its been awhile) I think it would be a must read for anyone who wants to learn about the American West.

  6. 4 out of 5

    John Johnson

    My parents introduced this book to me when I was in high school. Since then it continues to be one my favorite books. I admire the bravery, resolve and courage of the early explorers and settlers of the far west. The book shares their stories in a well written tome that's become a classic. My parents introduced this book to me when I was in high school. Since then it continues to be one my favorite books. I admire the bravery, resolve and courage of the early explorers and settlers of the far west. The book shares their stories in a well written tome that's become a classic.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marty Reeder

    I don't remember who recommended this book to me. I know that it was years ago and they vividly described how the book contrasts the experiences of the various settlers of the Far West--pioneers, miners, homesteaders, enterprisers. I was fascinated. Since then, that contrast stayed with me. So much so that I based a story I wrote just off of the memory I had of its description. Then, when ordering a bunch of books, I remembered Men to Match My Mountains and eagerly added it to the list. Finally, I don't remember who recommended this book to me. I know that it was years ago and they vividly described how the book contrasts the experiences of the various settlers of the Far West--pioneers, miners, homesteaders, enterprisers. I was fascinated. Since then, that contrast stayed with me. So much so that I based a story I wrote just off of the memory I had of its description. Then, when ordering a bunch of books, I remembered Men to Match My Mountains and eagerly added it to the list. Finally, book in hand, I read the story that I had placed on the top of a mountain of expectations for years. I wanted to see if it had earned its elevated station. The result? The Book Matched the Mountain of Expectation ... though it had its valleys as well. Ivring Stone, a historical/biographical fiction author by trade, must have found stories in the Far West that exceeded his ability to improve upon them through fiction. He was right. The stories of the settling of the Far West are fascinating, complicated, harsh, and beautiful in ways that many fiction authors could only dream of. In fact, they go beyond that. I, who do not delight in assigned readings, feel that Men to Match My Mountains should be required reading for any person living in the Far West area. A proper respect for the wildness of the country we live in, the hardships of the pioneers who tamed it, and the fragility between civilization or savagery, survival and mortality, is something that I think we all lose sight of in our comfortable existences. While reading the incredible accounts of the first pioneers, I could not help but look at the geography surrounding my home and realize that, without years and years of work from farmers, surveyors, engineers, and irrigators, I would be fairly well trapped and without resources. I enjoyed the mountains before for the vista, but I did not wholly respect them for their awesome dominance. Stone helped me to return to the native view of the land that hid beneath the gravel and pavement. He helped me to realize that the pioneers did so much more than walk a long way--they truly caused the desert to bloom. While enthralled with the settling and original acts of taming the Far West, I was less interested in the thick portion in the middle of the book that covered all of the gold and silver discoveries, their subsequent mines, and the booms and busts that resulted. Here and there an interesting tale could be told and dynamic characters passed in and out of the narrative, but learning about those things, for me, was ultimately as shallow as the mines turned out to be themselves after a few years ... and without the luster that comes with a successful strike. As a native Utahan, I was very intrigued by Irving Stone's approach to the Mormon exodus and settlement of the eastern Great Basin. I also appreciate the fairness that he gives in judging the Mormons, choosing to come to conclusions by fruits of their labor rather than the rumors of their rituals. The Mormons were appropriately vaunted for their teamwork and industry. At the same time, the detailing of the Mountain Meadows Massacre horrified me, as it should any humanity-loving person--even within context, it is a truly despicable act. I only wish that Irving Stone would have included a chapter on the noble tragedy of the handcart pioneers. I believe (perhaps in a biased way, as my ancestors were a part of it), Stone would have concluded that, in the actions of those pioneers and their rescuers, the Men Matched the Mountains. Perhaps the most refreshing part of Stone's story is that it is written well before far-too-sensitive political-minded historians would rip the glory from these enterprising individuals. Stone shows us these people in the context of their time, he judges them by that same measure, and he refuses to allow modern sensitivities denigrate truly courageous and noble acts. Equally, he also properly derides what then and now should be considered horrendous and repulsive. Yes, he could have spent more time on the native Mexicans and Indians in the region and attempted to show their point of view. I would have been interested in that. However, he is not altogether ignorant of these perspectives either. They simply do not fit within the scope of his narrative, which covers the transition of the Far West from remote outposts of scattered groups to civilization due to westward migrating Americans. In the end, the scope of Stone's work is impressive, and his management is trustworthy and also worthy of a great storyteller. Stone gets it, and he helps us to get it too. And although the path is rugged in parts along the way, I still feel that the journey is worthwhile. If you are a westerner, in fact, it's indispensable. Heck, I suppose it wouldn't hurt for those soft Easterners to be allowed a glimpse also!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gerilyn

    I LOVE this book! You know I'm always wild about good history books, but this is a particular gem. The history of the west is filled with larger-than-life characters of the sort we'll never see again (that's not all bad, by the way--a little bit of John C. Fremont, William Sharon and even Brigham Young goes a long way). Irving Stone is a novelist but this book is pure history, one of two that he wrote. Even so, he brings a novelist telling to the tale. I really enjoyed the outsider's view of Mor I LOVE this book! You know I'm always wild about good history books, but this is a particular gem. The history of the west is filled with larger-than-life characters of the sort we'll never see again (that's not all bad, by the way--a little bit of John C. Fremont, William Sharon and even Brigham Young goes a long way). Irving Stone is a novelist but this book is pure history, one of two that he wrote. Even so, he brings a novelist telling to the tale. I really enjoyed the outsider's view of Mormon history and found his take vivid, accurate and compelling. I couldn't sleep for days after reading the Donner party account. Highly recommmended(that means I've read it at least five times).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Jones

    Fascinating! I'm a Southern California native, with California native parents, I'm a Mormon with family and cultural ties to Utah, and I have been living in Denver for the past 7 years, so this history was especially interesting to me as I've been to or heard of most of the places Irving Stone writes about. I would recommend this for anyone who loves American history though, as the settling of the West was a unique experience. Fascinating! I'm a Southern California native, with California native parents, I'm a Mormon with family and cultural ties to Utah, and I have been living in Denver for the past 7 years, so this history was especially interesting to me as I've been to or heard of most of the places Irving Stone writes about. I would recommend this for anyone who loves American history though, as the settling of the West was a unique experience.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David Monson

    A very unassuming book until you get a little ways in and then BOOM! Some of the craziest events in history I've ever read! Settling the west, Mining for gold, fortunes made and lost, the scandals of the railroads, duels, pioneers, cannibalism, cities burned to the ground, crazy economic situations etc. This book truly gives meaning to the term "wild Wild West." Folks back then were tough as hell. I gained a lot of respect for them because of this book. It will seriously blow your mind! A very unassuming book until you get a little ways in and then BOOM! Some of the craziest events in history I've ever read! Settling the west, Mining for gold, fortunes made and lost, the scandals of the railroads, duels, pioneers, cannibalism, cities burned to the ground, crazy economic situations etc. This book truly gives meaning to the term "wild Wild West." Folks back then were tough as hell. I gained a lot of respect for them because of this book. It will seriously blow your mind!

  11. 4 out of 5

    KatieSuzanne

    My mom told me my grandpa loved this book and talked about it all the time so I'm trying it out. There's already been a chapter titled "An honest scoundrel thickend the plot" ...so it's sort of awesome already. My mom told me my grandpa loved this book and talked about it all the time so I'm trying it out. There's already been a chapter titled "An honest scoundrel thickend the plot" ...so it's sort of awesome already.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Fascinating, colorful account of the settling of the West (1840-1900). It includes stories of the California gold rush, the transcontinental railroad, the Mormons in Utah, Colorado's Comstock Lode, the building of San Fransisco and its colorful characters. I really enjoyed this account! Fascinating, colorful account of the settling of the West (1840-1900). It includes stories of the California gold rush, the transcontinental railroad, the Mormons in Utah, Colorado's Comstock Lode, the building of San Fransisco and its colorful characters. I really enjoyed this account!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Wayne

    Men To Match My Mountains by Irving Stone This book purports to be a history of “America’s Far West”, but is somewhat more limited in scope, covering essentially the white European “winning” period from 1840-1900. It is also limited to California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado – which the book designates the “Far West”. I’m not sure why Arizona wasn’t included. The book immediately put me off by stating “Except for a handful of hunters and trappers in the Colorado Rockies, scattered Indian tribes, a Men To Match My Mountains by Irving Stone This book purports to be a history of “America’s Far West”, but is somewhat more limited in scope, covering essentially the white European “winning” period from 1840-1900. It is also limited to California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado – which the book designates the “Far West”. I’m not sure why Arizona wasn’t included. The book immediately put me off by stating “Except for a handful of hunters and trappers in the Colorado Rockies, scattered Indian tribes, and few hundred settlers on the California coast, the region is totally unsettled and uninhabited.” This ignores the fact that there were much more than a few scattered Native tribes and that California had been settled by the Spanish in the late 1700s. The narrative starts in 1840 when northern European settlers and white Americans began to encroach on Mexican territory in California. The book is over 500 pages long and was a bit of a slog to begin with. I read about a quarter of it and set it aside for a few months. Once I realized that it was essentially a mining history of the West (again, ignoring Arizona) with the history of the Mormon settlement of Utah tacked onto it, I was able to tackle the book in earnest and finished it in a couple of weeks. The parts of the book dealing with the Mormon settlement of Utah seems to be an apologetic for polygamy and whitewashes the massacre by the LDS church members of the Arkansas emigrants at Mountain Meadows. Because of living in Colorado and Nevada, I rather enjoyed the tales of the mining activities and towns in those areas – Cripple Creek and Leadville in Colorado and Virginia City in Nevada. Stone did, however, misspell Alferd Packer’s name. Mr. Packer has the distinction of being the only convicted cannibal in American history. As an aside, the South Park guys (Stone and Parker) have madea movie musical of Mr. Packer’s exploits called Cannibal! The Musical, which is worth watching at least once. Overall, I would not recommend this book. The history is a product of its time having been written in 1956. It is my opinion that its treatment of history is outdated and incomplete.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Steve P

    Exhaustive... or exhausting? Irving Stone's recount of the settling of the Utah, Colorado, California and Nevada from 1840-1890 has a cast of thousands and a million details, which makes for a laborious read. It's fascinating to learn more about the Big Four (Stanford, Huntington, Crocker, Hopkins) who controlled the railroads and banks of the 19th -century gold and silver rushes. And there's plenty of cameos from others whose names grace prominent Western institutions (Fremont, Brigham Young, V Exhaustive... or exhausting? Irving Stone's recount of the settling of the Utah, Colorado, California and Nevada from 1840-1890 has a cast of thousands and a million details, which makes for a laborious read. It's fascinating to learn more about the Big Four (Stanford, Huntington, Crocker, Hopkins) who controlled the railroads and banks of the 19th -century gold and silver rushes. And there's plenty of cameos from others whose names grace prominent Western institutions (Fremont, Brigham Young, Vallejo, Donner, Sutter). But getting through this book literally took me 17 years - an inscription inside the front cover from my Mom congratulates me on taking a new job in Salt Lake City (in 2004) and hoping that I love the West. I do love the West and the accounts of wagon trains, steam locomotives, horses, boats and other forms of transportation that helped (white) men settle the West bring new perspective to many of the routes, ranges and rivers that define this area. But the story-telling wavers, and is one-dimensional. Mexicans, Chinese and Indigenous Americans are afterthoughts or footnotes. It tries to be all-encompassing, but ultimately feels like a shopping list of events such as mine openings and disasters. If you love the West, this is a good place to start. When finished, however, you'll want to revisit your knowledge of the region via different sources, narratives and writings.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jay Wright

    I am not sure of the sources used by Stone in the writing of this history. There are no footnotes and I am never sure of the accuracy. Therefore, as an amatuer historian, I was somewhat disappointed. This is written in a style which most readers would find pleasant and it reads like a novel. The author covers some of the outrageous events of the period. You have a litany of characters including Suter, Fremont, Ralston, Sharon, Sutro, Brighan Young ,Stanford and may more. Perhaps this style of wr I am not sure of the sources used by Stone in the writing of this history. There are no footnotes and I am never sure of the accuracy. Therefore, as an amatuer historian, I was somewhat disappointed. This is written in a style which most readers would find pleasant and it reads like a novel. The author covers some of the outrageous events of the period. You have a litany of characters including Suter, Fremont, Ralston, Sharon, Sutro, Brighan Young ,Stanford and may more. Perhaps this style of writing gives us a better feel as to what the people were really like.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anni Kramer

    An incredibly minutely researched book in the typical Irving Stone fashion. Most of the chapters are suspenseful and almost read like a script out of the old west, except that the stories are true. Occasionally some very trivial details tended to be tedious, and I forgot the details a few pages later. But all in all, a riveting read that provides a better understanding of life in those states of the USA starting from the middle of the nineteenth century. It was interesting to read throughout tha An incredibly minutely researched book in the typical Irving Stone fashion. Most of the chapters are suspenseful and almost read like a script out of the old west, except that the stories are true. Occasionally some very trivial details tended to be tedious, and I forgot the details a few pages later. But all in all, a riveting read that provides a better understanding of life in those states of the USA starting from the middle of the nineteenth century. It was interesting to read throughout that the hardships encountered by the settlers were best overcome by women, they remain sturdy and untiring thoughout.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Moonkiszt

    At the conclusion of Irving Stone's survey of those who "settled" the western parts of these United States, covering many well-known and not so well-known explorers and settlers, he wraps up with these words. . . This has been the story of the opening of a land and the building of a civilization. It has been told in terms of the people who opened that land and built that civilization, each life story an integral part of the mosaic. The Far West was the hero. The land had a common cast of charact At the conclusion of Irving Stone's survey of those who "settled" the western parts of these United States, covering many well-known and not so well-known explorers and settlers, he wraps up with these words. . . This has been the story of the opening of a land and the building of a civilization. It has been told in terms of the people who opened that land and built that civilization, each life story an integral part of the mosaic. The Far West was the hero. The land had a common cast of characters. What happened in any one region was of tremendous consequence to the others. Their biographies, their resources and destinies were so closely bound together that each was ineradicably woven into the fabric of the whole. For in the beginning, they were one. Now in 1900, an era had ended. A settled society would build itself in a 20th century image upon the rugged pilings of the past. Again, as in 1840, there would be trouble in the land. But there would be those who would claim that the Far West had become the West Ho!, another Valley of the Nile, cradle of a culture richer and freer than any the world had known. The feeling is panoramic, very theatrical and in this age, oh so dated in its perspective. I've taken this read very personally, because these are my people. All of my ancestors are in lines that followed these explorers, settlers and migrating groups. I grew up with their hopes and dreams for me recited and taught in somber and sacred meetings, in family settings around the communal table or fireside, whole languages and tokens and signals embedded in our physical interactions (hugs, kisses, hands held, loyalties manifested with every arm-in-arm exchange. I enjoyed this read. However, hindsight, exhaustive and explicit cautions a descendant to think twice before celebrating blindly. All history is written by the victors, for a very specific audience. . . and Irving Stone was writing to me, wanting me, in particular to believe each and every word. And mostly I do, but it is the negative space that is haunting - the voices not heard, stories not told, and ethics not examined that sits in my heart and groans. 4 stars. All haunted - and wanting to be heard. So, I'm working on that. Still, IS has provided a jumping off place for that to start.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Thad

    A really fascinating exploration of the history of the west. The story focuses on the development of California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Three of the four states were established essentially as byproducts of the exploration, discovery and exploitation of precious minerals (mostly gold and silver), and then the exploitation of those who found the gold and silver. His stories are replete with sad vignettes of those who came so close to success only to fail, and those who succeeded against great A really fascinating exploration of the history of the west. The story focuses on the development of California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Three of the four states were established essentially as byproducts of the exploration, discovery and exploitation of precious minerals (mostly gold and silver), and then the exploitation of those who found the gold and silver. His stories are replete with sad vignettes of those who came so close to success only to fail, and those who succeeded against great odds... or just got really lucky. He shares the stories of individuals who made incredible riches from gold and silver and parlayed them into empires which they ruthlessly protected, often cannibalizing one another to stay powerful. There was a rather nasty sense of the corruption bred by power, and how those in power used whatever means necessary to keep it (see particularly the men who developed San Francisco and the Western Pacific Railroad). Utah was unique of the four, in that mineral wealth was not the source of its development, but rather the religious faith of the Mormons who colonized it. As a Mormon, I was impressed by the even-handed story the author provided, especially given that this book was written in the 1950s; he was, for the most part, spoke highly of Brigham Young and his ability to muster a people in unity of purpose, and accomplish great deeds with his colonization of the West. He didn't pull punches however; he pointed out the Mormons' handling of "Gentile" businesses in Utah, and how they worked to edge them out of competition in the territory; and he pointed out how Mormon leaders hid from law enforcement for years in order to continue their practice of polygamy, only to finally acquiese to the government's demands to abandon the doctrine in order to achieve statehood (mind you, I understand both parts of this from the perspective of a faithful Latter-day Saint, but I also felt that his description and perspective were a very well thought out conclusion based upon well documented facts). For anyone wanting a better understanding of the gold rush, the development of the west, the challenge to earn statehood, the successes and failures of the gold seekers of the late 19th century, this is an excellent place to start.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    I recently re-read this wonderful history of the settling of California, Nevada, Colorado and Utah by American settlers during the 1800s. Stone tells a great story and you get it without footnotes or asides, even as he gives ample credit to source material at the end. It is a wonderful introduction to historical material from the period and should inspire more reading on characters or events of the time. Each of the three times that I've read it, I've come away with different impressions. The fir I recently re-read this wonderful history of the settling of California, Nevada, Colorado and Utah by American settlers during the 1800s. Stone tells a great story and you get it without footnotes or asides, even as he gives ample credit to source material at the end. It is a wonderful introduction to historical material from the period and should inspire more reading on characters or events of the time. Each of the three times that I've read it, I've come away with different impressions. The first time, it was the first history that I'd seen of the Mormon Church and Brigham Young. This last time it was noteworthy how the passivity of the Mexican government allowed a territory to split off as others arrived to exploit its commercial potential. It is a good read too in its description of how the Big Four used the Central Pacific railroad to create a monopoly on commerce in the Far West. The chapter titled "The Tiger and the Octopus" notes that "They could not run their railroad at a profit ... They reasoned that the only way they could survive would be to establish a monopoly over all railroading inside the Far West." Then Stone describes in detail the tactics used -- right down to refused public access across their rights-of-way and highly discriminatory pricing.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kushal Karwa

    A very exhaustive history of the the opening of the Far West of the Unites States - the region of California, Nevada, Colorado and Utah. Chronology wise, the author starts with the US takeover of a part of the present day California region - which was under the Spanish Mexico rule - and extends the story up to the period of grant of statehood to all the Far West states. A very entertaining story teller, Irving Stone has painted a vivid picture of the great adventurous pioneers who opened up thes A very exhaustive history of the the opening of the Far West of the Unites States - the region of California, Nevada, Colorado and Utah. Chronology wise, the author starts with the US takeover of a part of the present day California region - which was under the Spanish Mexico rule - and extends the story up to the period of grant of statehood to all the Far West states. A very entertaining story teller, Irving Stone has painted a vivid picture of the great adventurous pioneers who opened up these regions. He has described the birth of well know US metropolises - Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Salt Lake City et al., and has also underlined the culture of the frontier peoples of that period. On the negative side - there seems to be too much focus on Mormons and their stories as compared to other groups. Also, the American Civil War and its effects - if there were any - on the Far West states get only a few passing references by the author.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Fran

    This is quite an old book, and I think I picked it up at a used-book sale. It had set in my closet waiting to be read for years, and I finally got to it. I had read Stone in the past (even in high school, and that's a LONG time ago) and I had forgotten how much I liked him. This is his entertaining and VERY informative take on the Opening of the Far West, notably California, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah. The explanations and details about mining in the first three of those states were AMAZING and This is quite an old book, and I think I picked it up at a used-book sale. It had set in my closet waiting to be read for years, and I finally got to it. I had read Stone in the past (even in high school, and that's a LONG time ago) and I had forgotten how much I liked him. This is his entertaining and VERY informative take on the Opening of the Far West, notably California, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah. The explanations and details about mining in the first three of those states were AMAZING and fascinating. I had no idea what all was involved, AND the extent of the wealth taken from the mountains. (I had to keep reminding myself that he was using gold and silver prices from long ago too.) The Utah history was lots about the Mormons, and I found it less interesting. But the whole book was very good, and I am glad I discovered it, even decades after it was written!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    Best history of the far west I've ever read. Irving Stone wrote a lot of biographical novels. I think this is the only true history book he ever wrote, and it is terrific. It covers the original pioneers, the impacts of the Mormons, the gold and silver rushes, the building of the railroads, politics, consequences for the native Americans, and more. Wonderful details about the historic figures, and high praise for the women, who had a higher survival rate crossing the mountains than the me did. O Best history of the far west I've ever read. Irving Stone wrote a lot of biographical novels. I think this is the only true history book he ever wrote, and it is terrific. It covers the original pioneers, the impacts of the Mormons, the gold and silver rushes, the building of the railroads, politics, consequences for the native Americans, and more. Wonderful details about the historic figures, and high praise for the women, who had a higher survival rate crossing the mountains than the me did. Of one tiny little lady with small children, the wagon party leader wrote, "She was the one who put the packs on the oxen in the morning. She it was who took them off at night, built the fires, cooked the food, helped the children, and did all sorts of work when the father of the family was too tired, which was almost all of the time."

  23. 5 out of 5

    Todd Haines

    So this was like a series of snibits on the history of the west. I think the book tried to cover too much and it basically leaves out potential details or perspectives on the subjects. I had the audio version and the reader was like a 1970s announcer and what really bugged me were the mis pronunciations. Maybe look for another book. If quick hitter history is what you want then maybe this will work. Gets a rare bad revuew from me.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Hayley

    Irving Stove didn't disappoint. I truly enjoy his writing style. This subject matter of opening the West could have been difficult, bogged down with multitudinous information, but he kept it concise, engaging, and opnionless (as much as possible). I was completely absorbed with all if the Utah sections and learned a great deal about the Mormon settlers. Irving Stove didn't disappoint. I truly enjoy his writing style. This subject matter of opening the West could have been difficult, bogged down with multitudinous information, but he kept it concise, engaging, and opnionless (as much as possible). I was completely absorbed with all if the Utah sections and learned a great deal about the Mormon settlers.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lloyd

    This is one of my favorite books of all time. I read it several years ago, recently found it again and read it again. He makes history read like a novel. If you love history, especially of the Old West, this is a must read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    I can not write a helpful review - I found this book to be utterly engaging but I have a strong bias to the time and place. Stone selects stories of various individuals and plays each of them out like a suspenseful plot. Just superb.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    I am a history nut, so I am probably prejudiced, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. History of the founding of Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California. Colorful descriptions, entertaining as well as educational. Long read, but worth it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Allan

    Stone has a magic touch, synthesizing vast amounts of research into a highly readable account of a huge swath of space and time. What he creates in "Men" is an odyssey of the white people's irrevocable establishment of their civilization in California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. The author does not reflect to any significant degree on the prior inhabitants, though the Spanish/Mexicans get attention in the early going. Stone's focus is almost entirely on the beginnings of European-American inhabi Stone has a magic touch, synthesizing vast amounts of research into a highly readable account of a huge swath of space and time. What he creates in "Men" is an odyssey of the white people's irrevocable establishment of their civilization in California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. The author does not reflect to any significant degree on the prior inhabitants, though the Spanish/Mexicans get attention in the early going. Stone's focus is almost entirely on the beginnings of European-American inhabitation of the region, and the ways in which it took form in the various parts of the developing states. Even more specifically, the "men" of the title are those who contrived the power and wealth to establish permanent settlements and economic centers such as San Francisco, Denver, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. This is ultimately the story of the doers and the rulers of the region. There's a lot of gold digging throughout, which makes sense as the exploitation of natural resources was the prime impetus for the westward march of European-Americans. There's also quite a bit on the Mormons and their settlement in what became the state of Utah. The various threads are nicely woven from one brief chapter to the next, entertaining anecdotes abound, and the people whose story this is are made lively again in a way that makes them sufficiently understandable to the reader. An excellent survey of a critical time in the life of this young nation, and not noticeably dated, though there are certainly material differences which have been described in the half-century since its publication. And thus, Men to Match My Mountains may be particularly useful in that it compels the reader to read further into the people and events depicted.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joe Stack

    This is a wonderfully written history of California, Nevada, Utah, & Colorado filled with many colorful people. The bibliography indicates a lot of research. It is remarkable how much the author coalesces into the salient aspects for a highly readable history book. Regardless what is left out (and some would ask where are the women), for a single volume I think this is a good go-to book for the period and region covered. Until reading this book, I didn't realize how long it took for Southern Cal This is a wonderfully written history of California, Nevada, Utah, & Colorado filled with many colorful people. The bibliography indicates a lot of research. It is remarkable how much the author coalesces into the salient aspects for a highly readable history book. Regardless what is left out (and some would ask where are the women), for a single volume I think this is a good go-to book for the period and region covered. Until reading this book, I didn't realize how long it took for Southern California to develop and that real estate was to the LA area what mining was to Northern California, Nevada, & Colorado. This history is peopled with the ambitious, the hucksters, the promoters, the speculators, swindlers, visionaries, the dishonest & the honest, the hardworking, rogues, the deserving & the undeserving, tycoons & tycoon wannabes; fortunes gained & fortunes lost, and fortunes gained, lost, & gained again; the 48ers, the 49ers, & those who came later. In addition to the people, the land, the physical terrain, is as important to this history as the people. This is particularly evident in the sections on Colorado. It's also history of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Leadville, Denver, Virginia City, Salt Lake City, and many places in between, places that are no more and places that still exist.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    I began this book with the expectation that it would be another account of the mountain men and the fur trade. But it wasn't. Instead, it is a history of the far west and, primarily, the mining of gold and silver and the politics of early California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. I don't know whether it was because I was a more critical reader today that I was in 1966 or because Irving Stone was not as careful of a writer in 1956 as he had been in 1941. But I found this book to be much more diffic I began this book with the expectation that it would be another account of the mountain men and the fur trade. But it wasn't. Instead, it is a history of the far west and, primarily, the mining of gold and silver and the politics of early California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. I don't know whether it was because I was a more critical reader today that I was in 1966 or because Irving Stone was not as careful of a writer in 1956 as he had been in 1941. But I found this book to be much more difficult reading than I had found "Clarence Darrow for the Defense" when I read the latter 52 years ago. There were many awkward sentences that forced me to reread several sections to connect his references and the narrative was not nearly as well organized. Still, I enjoyed it tremendously and am glad I sustained the effort.

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