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Synopsis

Why would a farmer exchange his plowed fields for a wilderness? Why would a husband and father take his family from civilization into an untamed land? In the middle of the last century, thousands of Americans pushed westward into the unknown--and Joe Tower, who had never been fifty miles from his birthplace, was one of them. The Lost Wagon tells the gripping, warmly human story of why he ventured along the Oregon Trail and of how he and his family met its hazards....Ever since Joe and Emma had been married, they'd worked toward a place of their own. But the down payment they'd finally made on their small Missouri farm simply meant that Joe was trapped in debt. Although he was just thirty-four, he began to despair of giving his children a better life than his own. Barbara, his eldest, was beautiful; but her beauty would be dimmed by drudgery. Lively Tad would be tamed too soon by hard work. And the four younger ones--Joe saw the opening of the Far West, where land was free, as the family's only chance. But Emma, desperately fearful of the unknown, held him back until sudden disaster robbed them of choice. Late in the season, months behind the emigrant caravans, they started for Oregon, one wagon alone on the vast prairie.Guiding his mules along the trail, Joe unflinchingly faced the known perils of blizzards, badmen, stampeding buffalo. But as they pushed ever westward, he found much graver threats to his family circle in Barbara's love for a hot-tempered stranger, in Tad's rash claim to man's estate, and--most of all--in his own doubt of Emma's continued trust in him....Packed with action and unmistakably genuine in its characters and events, this story of a desperate journey to a promised land is tops for authentic color and real excitement. With its portrayal of the conflicts within a good marriage, the joys and uncertainties of young love, the closeness of a family cut off from the world, The Lost Wagon is a well-rounded, many faceted novel. And its honest picture of the fulfillment of one man's dream carries the magic of the promise that has never failed our nation.

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