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PathfinderPathfinder

John Charles Fremont and the Course of American Empire

Tom Chaffin

Narrated by Douglas R. Pratt

Available from Audible


Book published by University of Oklahoma Press


The career of John Charles Frémont (1813–90) ties together the full breadth of American expansionism from its eighteenth-century origins through its culmination in the Gilded Age. Tom Chaffin's biography demonstrates Frémont's vital importance to the history of American empire, and illuminates his role in shattering long-held myths about the ecology and habitability of the American West.

As the most celebrated American explorer and mapper of his time, Frémont stood at the center of the vast federal project of western exploration and conquest. His expeditions between 1838 and 1854 captured the public's imagination, inspired Americans to accept their nation's destiny as a vast continental empire, and earned him his enduring sobriquet, the Pathfinder.

But Frémont was more than an explorer. Chaffin's dramatic narrative includes Frémont's varied experiences as an entrepreneur, abolitionist, Civil War general, husband to the remarkable Jessie Benton Frémont, two-time Republican presidential candidate, and Gilded Age aristocrat.

Tom Chaffin is Research Professor of History at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he also directs and edits the series Correspondence of James K. Polk. His books include Sea of Gray: The Around-the-World Odyssey of the Confederate Raider Shenandoah and Giant's Causeway: Frederick Douglass's Irish Odyssey and the Making of an American Visionary.

REVIEWS:

“More than any other American John C. Fremont the pathfinder for a vast inland empire stretching from the Mississippi Valley to the Pacific Ocean. In a biography that, like its subject, never knows a dull moment, Tom Chaffin captures the spectacular successes as well as failures of this complex and colorful character.”

—James McPherson, Princeton University

Pathfinder is the most eloquent, understanding, and yet very candid biography of Frémont that has appeared to date. A major contribution to American historical writing.”

—Howard R. Lamar, Yale University





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