Astoria: Astor and Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire, a Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival

Peter Stark, Author
Peter Stark. Ecco, $26.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-221829-2
Reviewed on: 12/23/2013
Release date: 03/01/2014
Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-06-221831-5
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-06-221830-8
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4676-6984-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-4829-9219-9
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-230877-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-4829-9218-2
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At the dawn of the 19th century, America's Eastern coast had largely been settled, but the West remained largely uncharted and undeveloped. In 1810, entrepreneur John Jacob Astor proposed to Thomas Jefferson that Astor start a trading colony in what is now Oregon. In a page-turning tale of ambition, greed, politics, survival, and loss, historian Stark (The Last Empty Spaces) chronicles Astor's mad dash to establish a fur-trading company, Astoria, which would capture the territory's wealth and allow Jefferson to inaugurate his vision of a democracy from sea to shining sea. Astor sent two parties to build his empire, one by sea and one by land. They were to reach the Pacific coast at the same time, but dissension among the leaders of the overland party, as well as Indian attacks and other logistical difficulties, kept it from arriving according to plan. The sea party aboard the Tonquin was scarcely more fortunate. The establishment of the short-lived Astoria coincided with the War of 1812, and in October 1813, Duncan McDougall sold out the trading post to the British. Stark eloquently concludes that though Astoria failed, Astor's vision and drive pushed settlers to establish a Western presence, altering the shape of the American nation. (Mar.)
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