One of the most controversial and romantic figures in American history, John C. Frémont experienced a dizzying succession of public triumphs and humiliations. He made his name exploring the West, surveying, mapping, and describing the Rockies, the Great Basin, and Oregon country. Allan Nevins gives Frémont full credit for his achievements as a topographer, soldier, and politician while noting how often his rashness attracted enemies and led to his downfall: to a court-martial for disobeying orders during the Bear Flag Rebellion, to a disastrous winter expedition in the San Juan Mountains, to his defeat as the first presidential candidate of the Republican party, to the loss of his Civil War command. Through sickness and health, poverty and wealth, his wife, the vivacious Jessie Benton Frémont, stood by him. Their enduring romance occupies much more than the background in this absorbing story of his life.
The dean of American historians, Allan Nevins won the Pulitzer Prize for his biographies of Grover Cleveland and Hamilton Fish.