Beyond Cannibalism: The True Story of the Donner Party
The 19th-century pioneers set out for a new life when America was gobbling up land as fast as possible.
If it had worked out differently, the group of settlers that came to be known as the Donner Party would have slipped over the Sierra Nevada into California—and obscurity.
But poor planning, a series of bad decisions, and early snowstorms caused 60 of the original pioneers to become stranded in the mountains during the winter of 1846. And as hypothermia set in and food ran out, many resorted to that greatest of human taboos: cannibalism.
But who were these people? To answer that question, Michael Wallis, author of The Best Land Under Heaven: The Donner Party In The Age Of Manifest Destiny, has gone back to the beginning.
By delving into the biographies of leading party members and placing