Following the Nez Perce Trail is not what I expected, really. It’s cooler and better and way more interesting than what I originally had in mind!
Following the Nez Perce Trail IS a history book. It details the story of the Nez Perce Indians being forced from their homeland in 1877. It covers quite a bit of territory – from Oregon to Oklahoma and all the way up to Canada. This book includes eye witness accounts of sorrow, horror and hope. Published by OSU Press, in the introduction to this 2nd Edition, author Cheryl Wilfong herself says that she drove 8,000 miles of this trail. The book includes pictures, historical facts, markers, etc.
The unique aspect to this particular book is that it’s not just a history book. It IS that, but it is also more. It is a travel guide for people who might also have an interest in following the trail as it looks in the modern day. Wilfong offers a travel code in this book for those who would like to follow the trail as a “Mainstream Traveler” (who follows main roads and highways in large, more cumbersome vehicles), the Adventurous Traveler (who is willing to follow more of the back roads) and the Intrepid Traveler (who wants to follow as much of the actual trail itself -wherever it leads. All through the book she takes the time to tell each breed of traveler where to go or what to do to get the most out of their traveling experience.
This is the most amazing example I have ever seen of a history book/travel guide. Wilfong’s attention to detail (marking miles of travel for the modern explorer), her footnotes to history, her inclusion of diaries, statements and letters fom the past is both thorough and thoroughly remarkable. She makes history come alive by walking you to it and leading you on a journey to discover what it is these people saw, tasted, smelled and experienced as they were moved against their will away from their home into new lands and unfamiliar surroundings.
Following the Nez Perce Trail introduces you to a people, a culture, a belief system, and hardship that defies imagination. It is well-told, well put together (with timelines and maps) and comes highly recommended. This book is intense and informative and I’m really quite impressed with it. Thanks, OSU Press for offering a 2nd Edition of this incredible journey of the Nez Perce people.
Carrie comes by her book obsession honestly, having descended from a long line of bibliophiles. She blogs about books regularly at Reading to Know.