Tag Archives: Men To Match My Mountains

‘The Passionate Journey’ (1949) By ‘Irving Stone’, About U.S. Painter ‘John Noble’ Was A Tortuous Read.

by Anura Guruge

My copy of the 1949 book.
Nothing that tells you what it is about!

Irving Stone books. Click to ENLARGE.

I class ‘Irving Stone’ as one of my favorite authors in that his ‘The Agony and the Ecstasyis one my most favorite books & I am also very fond of his ‘The Origin‘ & ‘Men To Match My Mountain‘. As is my wont when it comes to authors I know, I invariably pick up any & all of their books whenever I come across them — used, swap or just giveaway.

That is how I had come across ‘The Passionate Journey’. It was a discard from a local library. Since it lacked a cover, I had NO idea what the book was about! But, it was a ‘Irving Stone’ & that was good enough for I.

It proved to be about mentally-tortured American painter ‘John Noble’. I had never heard of him. I had to look him up. Quite the painter. Interesting style. Very powerful & compelling in a strange way. I do like his paintings. So, I am glad to have learnt of him. NOT a happy soul. Had mental issues & resorted to alcohol to try & mitigate them — though never successfully.

The book, though based on ‘John Noble’, is classed FICTION. A lot of it is just that. Made up, conjecture, embellishment.

This was one of his early work. 12-years prior to ‘The Agony‘. He had NOT hot his stride as a writer.

This book was HARD to read. Though not a very long book it took me nearly 3-months to read it. It would put me to sleep — though the story was quite interesting. So, unless you are interested in ‘John Noble’ you should give this book a skip.

I have nearly all his books. Must try & read another later this year or next.

A ‘John Noble’ SAMPLER from the Web.

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by Anura Guruge

‘The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey’ By Rinker Buck — Interesting, But Not As Compelling As I Had Hoped.

by Anura Guruge

Click to access Amazon book listing.

I had seen this book at a bookstore during our trip to ‘Moosehead Lake‘, Maine in April, but bought it, used, from Amazon as is my wont with books like this.

The ‘Oregon Trail’ and all stories of the 19th century Western migration intrigues I mainly because I was lucky enough to have read a few very compelling books on the topic, ket among them: James Michener’sCentennial‘, Irvin Stone’s mesmerizing ‘Men to Match My Mountains‘ and J.S. Holliday’s ‘The World Rushed In‘.

Well, I am glad I read this book. I learnt a LOT, about the history of the trail, about mules (that I knew next to nothing about), the seemingly incredible ‘Buck’ family and some American history. Given that I am a history buff (in my old age) this book had some wonderful information and insights.

But, this book left me ‘hungry’ — and a lot of that, quite literally, was because Rinker was so stingy with his details of how and what they ate! I kid you not. I was hoping that this would be more of a trail diary — maybe a journal. Lots of stuff, on a daily basis, about what they did, what they saw, how they got from A-to-B, what they ATE, where they slept etc. Well, there isn’t that much of it as I would have liked. That was the let down. It was also sparse on the exact route they took — whether they were on main roads, back country roads, dirt roads etc. I got two maps (below) to try and and follow the trail. I also used Google Maps.

It was OK. Obviously it was a bestseller. So, he obviously hit on the right formula. Good for him.

Yes, I will recommend it with a slight hesitation. Do what I did. Pick up a used copy. That way you won’t feel as bad if you felt let down by the entire trip narrative. SMILE.


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by Anura Guruge

Irving Stone’s Monumental ‘Men To Match My Mountains’ Sure Worth Reading To Appreciate The Opening Of The U.S. Far West.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

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To say that I am a slavishly devoted fan of Irving Stone does not still adequately capture my deep emotional connection with this magical author’s writings.

Two of my all time favorite books are by Irving: ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy‘ (Michelangelo) & ‘The Origin‘ (Charles Darwin). Both these books made such an impact on me that I could even claim that they were life influencing.

Ditto with ‘Men to Match My Mountains‘. As with books by John Irving (funny that two of my most favorite authors are both ‘Irving’), James Michener et. al. I pick up any Irving Stone books that I encounter. So I know that I have had this book for over 15 years! I was always waiting for the right time to read it. I had read Michener’s ‘Centennial‘, about Colorado, earlier in the year. Since I did not grow up in the U.S. my knowledge of U.S. history has huge gaping gaps. I really had no idea as to the history of Colorado and was fascinated by Michener’s incomparably related narrative. I wanted to learn more. So I knew that it was getting time to read ‘Men to Match my Mountains’. I started reading it, appropriately, during our April trip to the Grand Canyon (though this book only deals with California, Nevada, Colorado & Utah).

The book is mind blowing. I learnt so much. So many characters. So many well known names, Stanford, Huntington, Fremont etc. that I was not aware of the backgrounds. I never realized the epic adventure of building the ‘Central Pacific Railroad‘. Though I have a fairly good collection of books on trains I was devastated to realize I really didn’t have any decent books on the building of this railway. That has been rectified. I bought two books. I had never heard of Hubert Howe Bancroft. I can sure relate to him.

So this book was, yet again, as with the other two Stone books, life altering for me. I now have an appreciation, tentative as it may be, as to how the Far West came to be — and cowboys really don’t play a big part in that.

If you are interested in the history of the Far West you can’t go far wrong by starting with this book. Obviously, Irving does not need endorsements from me. He is a true legend. I am, yet again, in his debt.