Jedediah Smith: No Ordinary Mountain Man 

by Barton H. Barbour (University of Oklahoma Press)

Boise State history professor Barton H. Barbour sets a rich trap line for us as we travel with Smith on his explorations of the West in the 1820s. Don't let the Charlie Russell painting on the cover deceive you: This is an honest portrayal of Smith, a man with a nearly tragic ambition to profit from the beaver trade and explore new horizons. 

Smith was one of the first mountain men to travel across the Great Basin into California and to cross the Sierras. He endured storms and starvation, encountered native tribes and Mexican bureaucrats and gathered mountains of beaver pelts. There is little doubt that Smith was a badass, the most harrowing example of which is a grizzly bear's attack on him and a subsequent field surgery.

Jedediah Smith: No Ordinary Mountain Man is the latest installment of the Oklahoma Western Biographies series. While Barbour's knowledge of his subject seems inexhaustible, readers could lose themselves in details. An atlas may be necessary to follow Smith's explorations. Yet readers will gain a better understanding of Smith, the man, and the role of the fur trade in America's settlement of the West.


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