REVIEW: Mountain Man by David W. Marshall
MOUNTAIN MAN by David W. Marshall brings the 1800s in America alive through a detailed account of John Colter’s life as a frontiersman. The Lewis and Clark Expedition was just one of his many accomplishments. A must read for American history lovers.
I’m not sure why I expected more of a fictional retelling of Colter’s life, but this isn’t that type of book. The historical references and detail is fascinating, but it takes me longer to read this style. It’s an excellent compilation of historical background on Native Americans as well as the trappers and scouts who moved through the frontier. I found the particulars about several famous people a highlight, making John Colter a captivating personality.
One of the fun things about being a NetGalley reviewer is their wish list. This book wasn’t available for review but I wished for it and I was thrilled when the publisher granted my wish. Trappers and mountain men are somewhat of a fascination for me. I’m not sure where it started, maybe because I could imagine my dad as one of these men if he was born in a different time. He loves to hunt, fish and hike, and tried to teach all of us his backwoods knowledge, so I imagine if given the opportunity, he would have jumped at the chance to join these expeditions.
My favorite books about this time in our history are FRONTIERSMEN by Allan W. Eckert and UNDAUNTED COURAGE by Stephen E. Ambrose. Both of these books read more like a fictional story based on fact, so that’s one of my disappointments with MOUNTAIN MAN by David W. Marshall. Not that the author is not talented, because I was mesmerized by the detail in his book, but it wasn’t as easy to read as my favorite two books. Maybe it is because John Colter didn’t write down anything about himself so the information had to come from other sources. Those details sometimes overshadowed John Colter’s journey.
John Colter hunted and scouted for the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which could be thought of as a major lifetime achievement. But, he didn’t stop with that, nor did he seem to rest much at all before his death. He was like a cat with nine lives. So much so that I really started to wonder if he was more legend than real. The strength of his inner spirit of adventure and his will to live is fully evident in everything he did.
I’m betting that several types of readers will enjoy this book. Survivalists will be riveted. I’m amazed anyone lived through these challenges, let alone prospered. There is so much detail on wilderness survival that I could easily imagine the setting. You’d have to be very comfortable with your own company because it seems like John Colter spent a lot of time by himself, fighting nature for his survival. Those who love early American history will be especially thrilled with this book. Following John Colter and others like him is enthralling enough, but the list of references and further reading can keep a history buff busy for years.
MOUNTAIN MAN is a treasure trove of historical tales and tidbits. Even though I’ve read volumes during this time in history, I still found bits of information I had never read before. These men were a rare, captivating group of brave explorers who weren’t afraid to take chances and then go back for more.
Not a book to rush through but to savor for its epic content, I’m sure I’ll read this again to learn what I missed the first time. Author David W. Marshall has done his homework and then some. There is some repetition in some chapters and places where the copy could have been tightened for easier reading, but I sure wouldn’t want the job of deciding which parts to leave out. I’m so glad I took a chance on this new-to-me author and I look forward to whatever he writes next.
Review by Dorine, courtesy of The Zest Quest. Digital copy provided by the publisher for an honest review.
Mountain Man: John Colter, the Lewis Clark Expedition, and the Call of the American West by David W. Marshall
Category: North American History
Publisher: Countryman Press; 1 edition (May 9, 2017)
Rated 4 out of 5