The overland emigration of 1846 to Oregon and California was self-willed, contentious, and cantankerous. It was also large, sprawling, energetic, confused, and confusing, and these characteristics will doubtless make the strongest initial impression upon readers who by this volume are carried back to the year 1846. Since the emigration describes itself, the viewpoint continually shifts and changes. Now the newspapers speak up; now the emigrants have their say, and from different places at different times. Underneath the surface flow of event, however, is the iron discipline of time, and very quickly, I believe, readers will begin to see pattern and progression.