Monday, July 13, 2015

Zebulon Pike: Explorer and Soldier

Doak, Robin S. Zebulon Pike: Explorer and Soldier. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2006. Print.
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My Thoughts
With only 95 pages of text, this was a super quick read, exactly what I wanted to learn more about Zebulon Pike. I'm heading to Colorado this summer, so I wanted to refresh why Pike's Peak was named. The book only spends a few sentences on this topic. The rest of the book gave me more information about Zebulon Pike's life.

Pike's Peak
Pike was an explorer. On one trip, he was sent to the western mountains to explore and find the source of the Arkansas and Red rivers (Doak 45). In November of 1806, he found a very large mountain that "in his journal, Pike named the mountain Grand Peak. He was convinced it would never be scaled or climbed" (Doak 60). Many years later, in 1842, John Charles Fremont recorded "in his journal that he had spotted 'Pike's Peak.' The name stuck, even though Pike never made it to the top" (Doak 60).

Other interesting facts about this mountain that Doak records:
  • it is more than 14,100 feet high
  • in 1820, four Americans climbed to the top
  • motto for many miners was "Pike's Peak or Bust!"
  • in 1893, Katharine Lee Bates "was so impressed by her trip to the top...she wrote the lyrics to the song 'America the Beautiful'" (60).
While on this same expedition, conditions became very harsh for Pike and his fellow travelers. In fact, the group had to be split. When Pike sent relief parties back, some of the men "spent along pieces of their gangrene-ridden toes, begging Pike not to abandon them" (Doak 69). These men would be later rescued by Spanish troops. 

As I really didn't know about Pike, I found out that on one exploration, he was captured by the Spanish and held prisoner. "Pike was housed  with Juan Pedro Walker, a New Orleans native who spoke Spanish, French and English" (Doak 80). I found it humorous that Walker asked Pike to pay rent while living there.

The Spanish thought Pike was a spy. Even after they released him, his reputation was tainted by his association with others. He did write a book about his explorations, but it caused the publisher to go bankrupt.

My objective was met with this book's content, and I learned a little more than I expected.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Du Maurier, Daphne. Rebecca. Read by Anna Massey. Hachette Audio. 2014. Audiobook.
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My Thoughts
I listened to this book. Anna Massey did a phenomenal job reading. I found myself mimicking her voice and pronunciation to certain things. She also had a creepiness about her voice with a few characters that added to the suspense of the book.

Plot summary (from Amazon) "The reader is ushered into an isolated gray stone mansion on the windswept Cornish coast, as the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter recalls the chilling events that transpired as she began her new life as the young bride of a husband she barely knew. For in every corner of every room were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten—a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house's current occupants. With an eerie presentiment of evil tightening her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter walked in the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, determined to uncover the darkest secrets and shattering truths about Maxim's first wife—the late and hauntingly beautiful Rebecca."

The book was originally published in 1938 and is 27 chapters long. As I was listening, I kept thinking, "Where's the action? This is supposed to be a suspense novel? How long is this going to drag on? Oh, this is so British!" Then, I hit the apex chapter and got very excited. I wanted to hear more. I had to know what was going to happen. In fact, I was at scrapbook retreat listening to this book! I had to find out what was next for these characters. When I finished the book, I was surprised. I expected one resolution only to find a different one. The story continues until the very last word. WOW! 

We are never told the narrator's first name. We are, however, told of Rebecca, the late first wife of Maxim de Winter. As the unnamed second Mrs. de Winter imagines what life was like or scenes from her husband's past or scenes of how something should occur, I thought about how we all do that--imagine scenarios. The narrator has quite the imagination of what life MUST have been like at Manderley with the beautiful late wife. Boy, was she wrong!

I'm not sure if I read this book, I would have stuck with it. However, listening to it was a great experience.