Lions of the West by Robert Morgan

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From Thomas Jefferson’s birth in 1743 to the California Gold Rush in 1849, America’s westward expansion comes to life in the hands of a writer fascinated by the way individual lives link up, illuminate one another, and collectively impact history.

Jefferson, a naturalist and visionary, dreamed that the United States would stretch across the North American continent, from ocean to ocean. The account of how that dream became reality unfolds in the stories of Jefferson and nine other Americans whose adventurous spirits and lust for land pushed the westward boundaries: Andrew Jackson, John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman, David Crockett, Sam Houston, James K. Polk, Winfield Scott, Kit Carson, Nicholas Trist, and John Quincy Adams.

Their stories—and those of the nameless thousands who risked their lives to settle on the frontier, displacing thou- sands of Native Americans—form an extraordinary chapter in American history that led directly to the cataclysm of the Civil War. Filled with illustrations, portraits, maps, battle plans, notes, and time lines, Lions of the West is a richly authoritative biography of America—its ideals, its promise, its romance, and its destiny.

About Robert Morgan

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ROBERT MORGAN is the author of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, most notably his novel "Gap Creek" and his biography of Daniel Boone, both of which were national bestsellers. A professor at Cornell University since 1971 and visiting writer-in-residence at half a dozen universities, his awards include Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellowships and an Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. He was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 2010. Find him online at
Published August 21, 2012 by A Shannon Ravenel Book. 543 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Lions of the West

Kirkus Reviews

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Morgan’s actors are sometimes even more obscure, though not deservedly so, such as the fair-minded diplomat Nicholas Trist, “idealistic to the point of seeming naive to a politician such as Polk.” The author is also good at pointing out some of the incidental ironies history affords, such as the ...

Sep 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Lions of the West

Publishers Weekly

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Morgan has made the Old West his preserve with the novel Gap Creek and a biography of Daniel Boone.

Aug 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Lions of the West

Star Tribune

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Morgan brings a storyteller's eye and ear to these vignettes, which range from Johnny Appleseed to John Quincy Adams. Missing here, though, is the repercussions felt by the indigenous people.

Oct 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Lions of the West

Dallas News

Robert Morgan’s ambition in writing Lions of the West was “to create a living sense of the westward expansion of the United States through brief biographies of some of the men involved.” This plan might have worked better if the author had a better list of lions.

Oct 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Lions of the West

Review (Barnes & Noble)

In Lions of the West -- Robert Morgan's diverting, if slight, collection of historical profiles -- the big cat that casts the longest shadow (in a litter of nine) is probably Andrew Jackson.

Nov 24 2011 | Read Full Review of Lions of the West

The Roanoke Times

Morgan, to his credit, realizes that all of his subjects — Jefferson, Carson, Polk, Crockett and Houston, among others — fit the conventional American West historical narrative.

Oct 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Lions of the West

Newcity Lit

In his eloquent, expansive homage to American figures central to our western growth, “Lions of the West,” novelist-turned-historian Robert Morgan notes the irony that a godfather of republicanism and limited government, President Thomas Jefferson, engineered the greatest increase of U.S. territory.

Dec 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Lions of the West

ForeWord Reviews

Morgan concludes with a short epilogue describing John Quincy Adams’ resistance to the war and US expansion into Texas and the Southwest: “I want the country for our western pioneers,” he said.

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Star News Online

he pays tribute to remarkable Western women such as Elizabeth Patton Crockett, whose remarkable business skills allowed her second husband Davy to run off, hunt bears and play politics.We see Jackson as a still young up-and-comer, winning his bloody victory over the Red Stick Creeks at Hor...

Oct 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Lions of the West

Southern Lit Review

Even the most comprehensive history cannot tell the stories of all these individuals, each of whom, in the narrative of the American West, could be numbered among the great “lions.” “While it is understandable,” Morgan explains, “that we see history mostly in terms of the deeds of a few, our gr...

Dec 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Lions of the West

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