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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

Dream West

By David Nevin
A Forge Book, 914 pp, 1983

Dream West is the novelized story of John C. Fremont, explorer, mapmaker, soldier, general, gold miner, governor (of two different territories, California and Arizona, but not at the same time, of course), and presidential candidate.

It's quite a tale. I don't know enough about Fremont's life to judge the novel's historical accuracy, but this is a work of fiction. The book jacket says he spent eight years researching the book, so that's some indication he probably did try to do right by history.

I think he succeeded, and if he is right, then Fremont was a true American hero. Brave, bound by honor and duty, prone to action, ideal husband and father, he helped open the West to exploration and establish California as a territory. Unfortunately, he dabbled in business and politics a bit too much, because he was trusting, decent, and honorable, while most of those around him were not. They ambushed him every chance they got, and he gave them several chances, but without intending to.

If you like grand, sweeping, historical fiction, this is for you. It's well-written and detailed, but not overly so. The only qualm, and this is no fault of Nevin's, is that the book contained several typographical errors, a black mark on the publisher. But such a minor quibble does not interfere in the enjoyment and pleasure of reading Dream West.

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