New Book Challenges History of the Old West
HOMER, N.Y., Dec. 7 /PRNewswire/ — Recorded history has been debatable; accounts depended on who wrote it and their motives. In his fact-based historical fiction novel, “Shadows of the San Juans” (published by iUniverse), author William J. Breidinger tells the tale of one of the most horrific characters of the Old West, Alfred Packer. Yet, by all accounts, he was not the man history made him out to be.
“Shadows of the San Juans,” set in the most rugged country in continental America, is a story of survival, adventure, gruesome murder, brutality and strife around the time of the American Civil War. From 1850 to the turn of the 20th Century, the cry to head west enticed thousands to seek fame and fortune. For those heading west, the task of survival hinged on sometimes the simplest decisions and the actions of a split second.
While heading west, Alfred Packer and a large group trekked into the Rocky Mountains in dangerous winter weather. According to recorded history, Packer was accused of cannibalism; he was first tried for murder and eventually sentenced to 40 years in prison for manslaughter. As the story goes, Packer went scouting and returned to find a fellow traveler roasting one of their own men; Packer then shot and killed the man. Packer claimed “self defense” as his initial motive for killing but later signed a confession admitting to cannibalism. Despite this pop-culture history, Breidinger offers a different picture and writes:
“In 1846, the Donner Party was stranded in the Eastern Sierras in late October. Seventeen persons attempted to cross the Sierras in December by snowshoe, seven survived. Rescue parties attempted to revive those stranded and several were brought to safety. In all, 40 persons of 87 survived. Those that did live managed to stave off starvation by cannibalism. To this day, no one is sure whether that was a by-product of death or a selective process. No one in the group was ever charged with any crime.”
About the Author
William J. Breidinger is currently the Executive Director of the Central New York Living History Center in Homer, New York. He attended the University of Rhode Island and then served as a grant writer and manager for the State of New York for over 30 years. He is also one of a handful of Certified Community Action Professionals, Emeritus, in the United States.
“Shadows of the San Juans”
ISBN: 9781440130557 – 6 x 9 – Paperback – 382 pages – $21.95
iUniverse offers a variety of publishing services to help individuals publish, market and sell fiction, poetry and nonfiction books. The company utilizes print-on-demand technology, and is one of the largest self-publishing companies in the U.S. iUniverse is based in Bloomington, Indiana.
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