Book review: WILDERNESS, by Roger Zelazny and Gerald Hausman

Discussion in 'Product Reviews' started by Jason, May 2, 2010.

  1. Jason

    Jason I am a little teapot

    I'm almost done with this book. It rells the seperate stories of 2 trappers from the early 1800's. The chapters alternate between the two stories. The tale of John Colter is set in 1808 and it tells of his run ins with Native Americans, both as friends and Foes. The other is about Hugh Glass, who was mauled by a bear and literally crawled over 100 miles after he was left for dead by his comerades. He woke up beside the open grave they'd dug beside him, pissed in it, then started to crawl.

    The mentality of the times is captured well-Hugh was thinking as he crawled about how it was nothing more than greed that got him into his predicament. Greed back in England for his beaver pelts, and greed on his part to go get those pelts until the animals were all gone. He was trapping when he was mauled.

    Colter ran with Lewis and Clark and they appear frequently in memories and flashbacks.

    It's an excellent book, and I recommend it highly. It gets a little weird in the midle but then gets back to normal. Copyright is 1994. A friend picked up the book at the Salvation Army store and is letting me borrow it.
  2. *Andi

    *Andi Supporting Member

    I'll check it out ... Thanks for the review.:congrat:

  3. HozayBuck

    HozayBuck Well-Known Member

    Thanks Jason!
    I've not read this book but I know both story's well.. in fact the youngest of the two men who left Hugh Glass was none other then Kit Carson when he first went to the Mtns...

    Another real good book is "Crow Killer" it's the true story of John Johnston, AKA Liver eatin Johnson".. very good read... I read it first time 55 years ago..he's now buried in Cody Wyo after being moved from Beverly Hills VA cemetery .

  4. Jason

    Jason I am a little teapot

    Wait a sec, Hozay...Hugh spent much of the time he was crawling thinking about what he'd do when he found the young guy who left him. In this book the guy's name was Jamie. You're saying that was really Kit Carson? That's pretty cool.

    I did finish the book, and it had a really good ending. I've not read books of this genre before but I'll be looking for more.
  5. HozayBuck

    HozayBuck Well-Known Member


    No Jason, I was wrong! I had to go back and check the facts, it was not Kit Carson, It was "Jim Bridger".. in later years Glass and Bridger did meet and parted under good terms..

    The following is the real story of Hugh Glass
    Glass's most famous adventure began in 1822, when he responded to an advertisement in the Missouri Gazette and Public Adviser, placed by General William Ashley, which called for a corps of 100 men to "ascend the river Missouri" as part of a fur trading venture. These men would later be known as Ashley's Hundred.

    Besides Glass, others who joined the enterprise included notables such as Jim Beckwourth, Tom Fitzpatric, David Jackson, John Fitzgerald, William Sublette, Jim Bridger, and Jedediah Smith.

    Early in the trek, Glass established himself as a hard-working fur trapper. He was apparently wounded on this trip in a battle with Arikaras, and later traveled with a party of 13 men to relieve traders at Fort Henry at the mouth of the Yellowstone River. The expedition, led by Andrew Henry, planned to proceed from the Missouri, up the valley of the Grand River in present-day South Dakota, then across to the valley of the Yellowstone.

    The Wrestle

    Near the forks of the Grand River in present-day Perkins County, in August 1823, while scouting alone for game for the expedition's larder, Glass surprised a grizzly mother bear with her two cubs. Before he could fire his rifle, the bear charged, picked him up, and threw him to the ground. Glass got up, grappled for his knife, and fought back, stabbing the animal repeatedly as the grizzly raked him time and again with her claws.

    Glass managed to kill the bear with help from his trapping partners, Fitzgerald and Bridger, but was left badly mauled and unable to walk. When Glass lost consciousness, Henry became convinced the man would not survive his injuries.

    Henry asked for two volunteers to stay with Glass until he died, and then bury him. Bridger (then 17 years old) and Fitzgerald stepped forward, and as the rest of the party moved on, began digging his grave. Later claiming that they were interrupted in the task by an attack by "Arikaree" Indians, the pair grabbed Glass's rifle, knife, and other equipment, and took flight.

    Bridger and Fitzgerald incorrectly reported to Henry that Glass had died.

    The Odyssey to Fort Kiowa

    Despite his injuries, Glass regained consciousness. He did so only to find himself abandoned, without weapons or equipment, suffering from a broken leg, the cuts on his back exposing bare ribs, and all his wounds festering. Glass lay mutilated and alone, more than 200 mi (320 km) from the nearest settlement at Fort Kiowa on the Missouri.

    In one of the more remarkable treks known to history, Glass set his own leg, wrapped himself in the bear hide his companions had placed over him as a shroud, and began crawling. To prevent gangrene, Glass laid his wounded back on a rotting log and let the maggots eat the dead flesh.

    Deciding that following the Grand River would be too dangerous because of hostile Native Americans, Glass crawled overland south toward the Cheyenne River. It took him six weeks to reach it.

    Glass survived mostly on wild berries and roots. On one occasion he was able to drive two wolves from a downed bison calf, and feast on the meat. Reaching the Cheyenne, he fashioned a crude raft and floated down the river, navigating using the prominent Thunder Butte landmark. Aided by friendly natives who sewed a bear hide to his back to cover the exposed wounds, Glass eventually reached the safety of Fort Kiowa.

    After a long recuperation, Glass set out to track down and avenge himself against Bridger and Fitzgerald. When he found Bridger, on the Yellowstone near the mouth of the Bighorn River, Glass spared him, purportedly because of Bridger's youth. When he found Fitzgerald, and discovered that Fitzgerald had joined the United States Army, Glass purportedly restrained himself because the consequence of killing a U.S. soldier was death. However, he did recover his lost rifle.

    Arikara Encounter

    Glass, along with 4 others, was dispatched by Ashley to find a new trapping route, by going up the Powder River, then across and down the Platte to the bluffs. The party set off in a bullboat. Near the junction with the Laramie River, they discovered some 38 Indian lodges, with several Indians on the shore. The Indians appeared to be friendly, and the trappers initially believed them to be Pawnees. After going ashore and dining with the Indians, Glass discovered that the Indians actually belonged to the Arikara nation, who, after several past encounters, were anything but friendly with the whites. The party quickly got in the bull boat and paddled for the far shore. The Indians promptly swam in after them and both reached the shore around the same time. Two men, Marsh and Dutton, escaped and reunited later, but the other two, More and Chapman, were quickly overtaken and slaughtered. Glass was lucky enough to find a group of rocks to hide behind, and was not discovered by the Arikaras. Glass also found his knife and flint in his shot pouch after the ordeal. He fell in with a party of Sioux and travelled with them back to Fort Kiowa.

    Glass' survival odyssey has been recounted in numerous books. A monument to Glass now stands near the site of his mauling on the southern shore of Shadehill Reservoir on the forks of the Grand River.

    Later years

    Glass would again return to the frontier as a trapper and fur trader. Later he was employed as a hunter for the garrison at Fort Union. He was killed with two fellow trappers in the winter of 1833 on the Yellowstone River in an attack by the Arikara.

    According to the book The Deaths of the Bravos by John Myers Myers, the Arikara in April of 1833 later tried to pass off as friendly Minitaris Indians to a party of trappers employed by Amfurco. However, Johnson Gardner one of the trappers recognized a rifle that one of the Indians had as the very rifle Glass got back from Fitzgerald after his epic journey for revenge after Fitzgerald and Bridger left him for dead in 1823. Alarmed by this, Gardner correctly surmised that the Indians were actually Arikara's. The Indians were seized and their execution avenged the death of Hugh Glass.

    Colter is credited I believe with the "white" discovery of Yellow Stone , the Mountain men called the place "Colters Hell" because of the smell of the hot pools, A lot of the Mtn Men wintered in the area soaking in the pools and because as a rule the Indians wouldn't go there... of course 4 or 5 would have been a lot...

    My home since 1973 has been within a one hour drive of the place where the Missouri River is born, Three forks MT, that's the area more or less where Colter started his run , as to exactly where I doubt any but he and the Indians knew.. it was one hell of a long way from there to Yellowstone!

    Now that's being a "Survivor"!.. Makes Rambo look like a sissy!
    Last edited: May 26, 2010
  6. Jason

    Jason I am a little teapot

    Hozay-thank you for that information. That's pretty much what the book said but I didn't realize the book was based on fact to that extent. Amazing story.
  7. bunkerbob

    bunkerbob Supporting Member

  8. Concretin

    Concretin Member

    I believe that Johnston, who was also a lawman in Red Lodge Montana, was buried in Forest Lawn, a cemetery here in CA. I wasn't aware that his remains had been moved. The one thing for sure I know is that Jim Bridger is Buried in Mt. Washington cemetery in Independence, MO. When I was a Boy Scout back in the 60's we would have a memorial ceremony at his gravesite every year. It was pretty impressive with several thousand scouts paying homage to a great scout.