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Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: a Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival

Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: a Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival

Scritto da Peter Stark

Narrato da Michael Kramer


Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: a Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival

Scritto da Peter Stark

Narrato da Michael Kramer

valutazioni:
4.5/5 (15 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
10 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Mar 4, 2014
ISBN:
9780062308771
Formato:
Audiolibro

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Nota del redattore

Adventure & daring…

An adventurous and daring story about one of the U.S.’s first attempts to expand west that rarely gets told but greatly shaped lasting ideas about capitalism and manifest destiny.

Descrizione

In 1810, John Jacob Astor sent out two advance parties to settle the wild, unclaimed western coast of North America. More than half of his men died violent deaths. The others survived starvation, madness, and greed to shape the destiny of a continent.

At a time when the edge of American settlement barely reached beyond the Appalachian Mountains, two visionaries, President Thomas Jefferson and millionaire John Jacob Astor, foresaw that one day the Pacific would dominate world trade as much as the Atlantic did in their day. Just two years after the Lewis and Clark expedition concluded in 1806, Jefferson and Astor turned their sights westward once again. Thus began one of history's dramatic but largely forgotten turning points in the conquest of the North American continent.

Astoria is the harrowing tale of the quest to settle a Jamestown-like colony on the Pacific coast. Astor set out to establish a global trade network based at the mouth of the Columbia River in what is now Oregon, while Jefferson envisioned a separate democracy on the western coast that would spread eastward to meet the young United States.

Astor backed this ambitious enterprise with the vast for-tune he'd made in the fur trade and in New York real estate since arriving in the United States as a near-penniless immigrant soon after the Revolutionary War. He dispatched two groups of men west: one by sea around the southern tip of South America and one by land over the Rockies. The Overland Party, led by the gentlemanly American businessman Wilson Price Hunt, combined French-Canadian voyageurs, Scottish fur traders, American woodsmen, and an extraordinary Native American woman with two toddlers. The Seagoing Party, sailing aboard the ship Tonquin, likewise was a volatile microcosm of contemporary North America. Under the bitter eye of Captain Jonathan Thorn, a young U.S. naval hero whose unyielding, belligerent nature was better suited to battle than to negotiating cultural differences, the Tonquin made tumultuous progress toward its violent end.

Unfolding from 1810 to 1813, Astoria is a tale of high adventure and incredible hardship, drawing extensively on firsthand accounts of those who made the journey. Though the colony itself would be short-lived, its founders opened provincial American eyes to the remarkable potential of the western coast, discovered the route that became the Oregon Trail, and permanently altered the nation's landscape and global standing.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Mar 4, 2014
ISBN:
9780062308771
Formato:
Audiolibro

Disponibile anche come...

Disponibile anche come libroLibro


Informazioni sull'autore

Peter Stark is a historian and adventure writer. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Astoria, along with The Last Empty Spaces, Last Breath, and At the Mercy of the River. He is a correspondent for Outside magazine, has written for Smithsonian and The New Yorker, and is a National Magazine Award nominee. He lives in Montana with his wife and children.

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Recensioni dei lettori

  • (5/5)
    Great historical account of the founding of Astoria.
  • (4/5)
    Narrative approach to a subject lost on many.
  • (4/5)
    A popular account of a nearly forgotten epic of commercial empire building, the striking thing to me is the raw hubris of it all, as Astor's vision depended too much on men who were not as committed as him in the face of too many unknowns; never mind that it's hard to imagine that Astoria could have really survived the course of war. Still, the whole exercise most certainly contributed to the course of American empire, as the the overland contingent of Astor's company (by the skin of their teeth) essentially pioneered the Oregon Trail.
  • (3/5)
    Meticulously researched, this account of John Jacob Astor's failed attempt to create a trading empire in the Northwest is a dramatic, engaging story.
  • (5/5)
    President Thomas Jefferson had a vision of democracy stretching from the East Coast to the uncharted West Coast. So he heartily approved when John Jacob Astor proposed a colony at the mouth of the Columbia River.The fur trade was amazingly rich; immense fortunes were made. In the early 1800's, however, all the American furs where coming from the land east of the Continental Divide. Astor envisioned a global trade triangle. Furs from the Pacific Northwest would be taken to the incredibly rich markets and high demands of China. Chinese luxury goods such as silk and ceramics would then sail around the Horn to New York where the ships would restock with items to resupply the Northwest colonies.Astor had the wealth to put this plan into action. He purchased a ship to be captained by a stern ex-military man to sail around the Horn to the mouth of the Columbia. He also fitted out an expedition of sixty persons, including Scotch and French mountain men, several of his partners and Marie Dorion and her two young sons, to attempt the overland route - a feat which had not been accomplished since the earlier Lewis and Clark expedition.This history is the best sort of Narrative Non-Fiction with enough twists and turns and unforgettable characters to keep the pages turning. Exploration, hardships, hostile Indians (often not hostile until they had previous bad experiences with whites), calamitous weather and finally, the War of 1812 with Britain, make this a memorable read.It's one I wouldn't have picked up except it was a choice by my book club. I'm really glad I did.
  • (4/5)
    An interesting, popular history of an early, failed attempt to claim the Northwest Pacific coast of America for the United States. The author does an excellent job of evoking the characters, decisions and mishaps that doomed this enterprise. Yet, even though the original enterprise failed, the group that make the overland trek, discovered and explored the route that would one day become the Oregon Trail.
  • (5/5)
    Incredible story of what's today a largely forgotten chapter in early American history. Peter Stark's book explores the ambitious endeavor conceived of by John Jacob Astor to construct a global fur-trading monopoly including an American colony at the mouth of the Columbia River. A number of dynamic personalities took charge of the expedition, including the domineering Captain Thorn and the accommodating Wilson Price Hunt, which include both an oceanic and overland expedition. The story is filled with great heroics, tragedy, and conflict as Astor's crews struggle to first reach the Pacific, and then battle nature and each other to establish the colony. In many ways this book reminded me of histories written by Candace Millard- flowing fast read with vivid details. This is the kind of book that as you read will make you ask "why isn't this already a movie?"
  • (5/5)
    Peter Stark's book develops a long forgotten story of American exploration that shaped the destiny of the young nation and the Pacific trade. John Jacob Astor was a wealthy, self-made businessman who prospered both in the real estate market of New York and the fur trade of North America. Astor (encouraged by Thomas Jefferson) saw a vision of the west coast of America in which furs were shipped to China for tremendous gain and Chinese goods were shipped to America for more gain and supplies and trading goods were shipped back to the west coast. There, the process would repeat itself endlessly, greatly enriching all who could successfully establish the route. Astor was determined to be the first. He carefully planned and recruited two parties, one via the sea and one via land to establish an outpost. Both parties eventually arrived but only after staggering amounts of suffering and endurance. The leaders chosen so carefully were revealed to be flawed (sometimes fatally) for the task at hand. Though Fort Astoria was established, it never developed into Astor and Jefferson's dream. The War of 1812, the difficulty of the overland route, and losses at sea meant that eventually the British took possession. Even that was not to last. The lasting legacy of the expedition was the discovery of the ideal path to the Oregon territory. By the middle of the century, the west was not a land for fur trappers but for settlers. A new vision came to fruition on the backs of brave men and women who paid for it.Stark's book is full of the stories of history that make tales compelling. It ends ambiguously, but that is because it had to. Astor paved the way, but he did not succeed. He was the spark, not the fire. Stark's development of the various personalities is well done. The reader feels empathy for the suffering the men endured. In summary, Stark has retold an unforgivingly forgotten part of our history and retold it well.
  • (4/5)
    After a recent visit to Astoria, the book seller recommended this book as the primo popular reference to the claim that Astoria was the first American settlement West of the Rockies. As it turns out, just 5 years after Lewis and Clark returned to the US, John Jacob Astor dispatched two expeditions; by land and sea, to establish an "emporium" in the West. These guys went West for business purposes, not as explorers, as Astor was a [very rich] visionary. This is the story of their expeditions. In this book, I rediscovered some characters that I'd learned in the 4th grade Northwest history and learned a lot about some more. The story reads like a novel, but the best is at the end where the author describes Astor's impact and the epilogue about the people who did this. "Whatever happened to.....?" was clear. These entrepreneurs opened up the Oregon country for white settlement.
  • (4/5)
    An interesting story, and one I'd never even heard of before. However, I'm not sure the narrative really "carried me on." It felt a bit flat in places, and the end come kind of suddenly and without any real sense of conclusion. But an piece of history that I'd otherwise be missing (and wouldn't have known to go looking for) so 4 stars.
  • (5/5)
    Six years after the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Jacob Astor sent a ship around S. America and an overland expedition over the Rockies to converge at the mouth of the Columbia and establish a headquarters for a fur empire that would collect furs from west of the mountains and up and down the coast. An unbelievable story about probably the first "Pacific Rim" trade adventure! Well written. And you will find out who John Day was!
  • (4/5)
    This is really good. It starts off slow in Germany with background about John Jacob Astor and then moves to New York with the immigrants idea for starting a colonial expedition to Oregon. Then the journey begins. Moving westward there is both a sea journey and an overland journey, complete with a cantankerous evil captain, hostile indians, first contacts, French and Scottish voyagers, War of 1812, etc.. reaching a sort of explosive climax in an unforgettable incident. Unbelievably this story has been largely forgotten, it was once a standard schoolroom subject - I had never heard of it before. Probably overshadowed by Lewis and Clark, hopefully this readable book restores greater interest.
  • (5/5)
    A splendid book. Stark knows a lot about the wilderness and conveys it well in this tale of the failed establishment of Astor's fur empire. One doesn't know until the end whether it failed or not. The writing is exceptional when it comes to the hardships suffered by these men.
  • (4/5)
    Peter Stark really knows his stuff. He imbued what could have been a rather dull and uninteresting story with panache, wonderful characterization and descriptive details. I was drawn in by the characters, the setting, and a tale of an ambition of immense proportions. I have had the pleasure of visiting Astoria, OR many times, as it is only a few hours from where I grew up, and it's one of my favorite places in the world. This book allowed me to visualize the Astoria of yesteryear, an Astoria born out of a vast and hostile wilderness. A frontier encampment. A dream brought about by John Jacob Astor, who was never able to fully realize his golden trade triangle. This is a fabulous read for anyone interested in Pacific Northwest history, or anyone who likes to read about stories of courage and perseverance. Beautifully done.
  • (4/5)
    Very well written and researched book about the steetlment of Astoria and early American fur trade.
  • (5/5)
    Very enjoyable read about the settlement of the US west coast; I appreciated how the author connected historical significance of the time with present day geography and facts.
  • (5/5)
    Stark has written a totally engrossing story of events surrounding John Jacob Astor’s bold vision for capturing the largely unknown Pacific Northwest for worldwide commerce in the early 19th century. Events depicted in this book largely have been lost to history probably because of its eventual failure but also because they were overshadowed by the hugely successful Lewis and Clark expedition.Stark’s story focuses primarily on the people who Astor recruited to implement his plan. He planned to establish his foothold at the mouth of the Columbia by sea and by land. His recruits were from many different backgrounds and had varying temperaments and skill sets—Canadian voyageurs, former military men, and commercial partners with little knowledge of the wilderness. Stark effectively demonstrates their flaws as well as their heroism. His plan also was impacted positively by Jefferson’s support and negatively by Madison’s lack of it along with US involvement in a war with Great Britain.Native Americans play a key role in the tale. They are depicted as being quite diverse in culture and temperament. Some showed amazing levels of empathy in assisting the Whites, while others were deceitful and even openly hostile. The loss of the first Astor vessel to arrive in the Northwest—the Tonquin—is an excellent example of the latter. Communication failures and an excessively rigid naval man undoubtedly precipitated this tragedy.In addition to the important human element, geography played an overwhelming role in this endeavor. The distances were vast and all but unimaginable at the time. This made communication between the players almost impossible. Clearly mountains and rivers were important impediments, but also were oceans and weather.Stark ends his narrative by speculating on other possible outcomes had the Astoria project actually succeeded, including a very different America.