The American Frontier: 'The Way West' by A. B. Guthrie

Hosted by Oklahoma Humanities and Waurika Public Library
The Way West by A.B. Guthrie (File)

Cultural, diplomatic, economic, military, political, and social factors, or a combination of these features, frequently drive history. Oklahoma Humanities Pulitzer Prize Centennial Series on The American Frontier reflects the influence of individuals on the historical process during the development of the American West.

On October 4, Bruce Treadaway wil present on The Way West by A. B. Guthrie.

A 1950 Pulitzer Prize awardee for fiction, The Way West chronicles the lives of a group of emigrants traveling the Oregon Trail in 1846. Dick Summers, chosen as pilot, is a former mountain man who reminisces about a frontier life that no longer exists, before the decimation of beaver and the silencing of the Rendezvous fur-trading fair. Lije Evans is a poster child for Manifest Destiny, a belief that the United States was ordained to spread from ocean to ocean. Just as his father had fought the British, he determines to help settle Oregon Territory with Americans to deny the English their claim in the Northwest. Their fellow travelers making the difficult trip are as varied as their reasons for heading to the new frontier: an opportunity to rise to political importance, the chance to be “first come, best served” in business as well as profits, and the hope of saving a child’s life. The author’s intent is not to recount all the perils of the journey although he details them all including Indian encounters, river crossings, disease, and stampeding buffalo. Rather, the tale is of strangers, bound together to face triumphs and disasters in their determination to make their way west.

More in this series:

Sept. 6, 5:30 p.m.

Across the Wide Missouri by Bernard DeVoto

Presenter John Morris, Ph.D.

Sept. 15, 5:30 p.m.

The Middle Ground by Richard White

Presenter: David Fennema, Ph.D

Nov. 1, 5:30 p.m.

Son of the Wilderness by Linnie Marsh Wolfe

Presenter: Margery Kingsley, Ph.D.

Dec. 6, 5:30 p.m.

The Son by Philipp Meyer

Presenter: Rebecca Jacobs-Pollez, Ph.D.