Lion of the West: Heroes and Villains of the Westward Expansion

Written by Robert Morgan
Review by Mary F. Burns

This collection of brief accounts of ten “legends” of 18th and early 19th century America is a fine introduction to the persons and the culture that drove Americans across the country in search of land, freedom, prosperity, and “home” – albeit often at the expense of the peoples and cultures who lived there before them. With ample apologies for the excesses and atrocities of the white men who cheated and killed the American Indian tribes, Morgan nonetheless is able to present with some sympathy the driving forces behind the crusade to expand for such men as Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston, Kit Carson, David Crockett (yes, David), and others. The text is simple, the information often very interesting, and it serves as a solid overview of the theme of Manifest Destiny and how it helped form the nation we find ourselves living in today, with a bittersweet mix of nostalgia and perhaps shame.