• A Life Wild and Perilous

  • Mountain Men and the Paths to the Pacific
  • By: Robert M. Utley
  • Narrated by: Richard Davidson
  • Length: 13 hrs and 57 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (293 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

If you have ever wondered what is was like to be an explorer in the unspoiled American West of the early 1800s, then this is the audiobook for you. Not only a groundbreaking work of American history by critically acclaimed author Robert M. Utley, A Life Wild and Perilous is also a dramatic story of innovation and survival. Here is your chance to live in the very heart of the American wilderness with legendary trappers and mountain men like Jim Bridger, Kit Carson, Tom Fitzpatrick, and Jedediah Smith. You will also see how these men played a major role in pushing our national frontier from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, and fulfilling our nation’s ideal of Manifest Destiny. Breathtaking in scope, yet filled with the seemingly small decisions that changed the course of a nation, A Life Wild and Perilous is a compelling and fascinating piece of Americana. Travelogue buffs and historians alike will delight in Richard M. Davidson’s inspired telling of how the West was really won.

©1997 Robert M. Utley (P)1998 Recorded Books, LLC

What listeners say about A Life Wild and Perilous

Average Customer Ratings
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent book (read with a map)

Very much enjoyed the stories. Having an understanding of the geography of the west is helpful in listening to the book.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The narrator tries my patience.

What made the experience of listening to A Life Wild and Perilous the most enjoyable?

I am fascinated by the individual characters highlighted, such as Hugh Glass, Jedediah Smith, Kit Carson, and Joseph Walker, to mention just a few of the ones who stand out. They are colorful elements of a short period of our American history, and of our geography. I liked reading about the western territories, the rivers and deserts, the Indians and all the rugged humans who peopled the land and lived lives so different from ours. From now on when I hear the names of rivers and places such as Ogden, Bonneville, Walker and Provo, they will be evoke the rich history behind them.

What didn’t you like about Richard Davidson’s performance?

He makes a failed attempt to read with a lot of expression, failed because he gives more weight to the wrong words and phrases, and also overdramatizes less important sentences as though they were the most significant moments in history.

But the most annoying feature of this narration is the slowness of it. Period stops are often so long that you think it must be the end of a chapter, but no, eventually the narrator comes back, as though from having a TIA. I bought a print copy of this book out of supreme frustration.The quality of Richard Davidson's voice itself is resonant and deep! I suppose that's why he got this job. But for narration, that's not the only factor to consider.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A lot of good history and quite a story too.

This book fills in a lot of history that has been generally skipped over in favor of the Civil War and other high volume catagories. I listen to audible or read a book to learn. I did that and then some. Hard men, rough time, the building of a nation, the shrinking of nations, fortunes won, fortunes lost, the rise of the U.S. the decline of Mexico, the making of American heroes, the end of the Red man, its all in there. Very well read. Very well written. A bit sad in places. Non fiction tends to be that way sometimes.

11 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

It's alright.

I found the title and publisher's summary a little misleading: "If you have ever wondered what is was like to be an explorer in the unspoiled American West of the early 1800s, then this is the audiobook for you."

There isn't really much detail about "what is (sic) was like", rather it is a summary of the historical record.

It isn't bad, just not as intriguing to me as later accounts of what life was really like on the ground out West such as "The Oregon Trail" by Francis Parkman, and "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" by Isabella Lucy Bird.

4 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Just the facts

Not much of a story just dry facts too boring to finish. I think this is a good subject presented in a dull drab way. I never connected with the story. What was the purpose of writing this?

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great detail.

Well organized overview with great breadth covering the early west. The main characters in thier timeframes with details that brings the stories to life.

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Get It Right!

The narrator needs to learn how to pronounce the Oregon River Willamette. So irritating. Other than that, it’s a good listen.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great perspective book

As Americans, we constantly fantasize about stories of the old west. This is the book that puts them together. Most people have heard the names of these frontier legends, but do not truly understand the reality of their perilous lives and their role in developing the western frontier in the first half of the 19th century. I would highly recommend this to anyone willing to learn about our development as a nation.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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wonderfully written!

the book has a great and methodical flow to it. I loved every bit of it. It is a valuable resource to any who wish to know their mountain man history by heart.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not as hoped for

The story is as dry as the "perilous" deserts crossed by the mountain men. Difficult to finish.

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Profile Image for Sean
  • Sean
  • 11-17-17

manifest murder

These guys were tough as ould boots,I admire them in a way but loathe the murder and near genocide of the native people,very good book though,loadsa info.