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Battle Drums and Geysers: The Life and Journals of Lt. Gustavus Chayney Doane, Soldier and Explorer of the Yellowstone and Snake River Regions

Battle Drums and Geysers: The Life and Journals of Lt. Gustavus Cheyney Doane, Soldier and Explorer of the Yellowstone and Snake River Regions, by Orrin H. and Lorraine Bonney, with foreword by George B. Hartzog, Jr. Chicago: Sage Books, The Swallow Press, Inc., 1970. xvi, 622 pages, bibliography and index, photographs and maps. Price $15.00

Lieutenant Doane took an active part in what might be called the second phase of exploration of the West, i.e. the period immediately following the Civil War, when the details of the region were being searched out and routes for the settler, miner, and cattleman being opened up. The area in which he worked is of great interest to the modern mountaineer, and traveler who is interested in the mountains, to say nothing of the river runner who will be most interested in the early attempts to run the Snake River.

The Bonneys have brought to us not merely the journals of Doane but in the text have contributed a wealth of information on the region, the times, and the interacting factors, which only those with a thorough knowledge of the area and its history could possibly give. The amount of research that went into the production of this book is at once apparent to the reader, yet never does the style become pedantic, but rather leads the reader to read more and faster.

The life of Doane is sketched briefly up to and through the Civil War experiences of the lieutenant, and then the real detail comes forth. The Arctic interlude and even the abortive attempt at African exploration provide interesting sidelights to the man’s character. The comparisons of Doane’s writings with some of those of others in the party give an interesting insight into the natures of the different men and enables us to draw a better picture of the real happenings.

There are three basic parts to the book: the life of Doane, the Yellowstone Exploration of 1870, and the Snake River Exploration of 1876- 1877, together with Doane’s journals of these explorations. The book is well illustrated with many contemporary photographs and maps, while the bibliography will prove invaluable to those wishing to pursue the various leads opened up. The index makes the book valuable for reference, while the format makes for pleasing reading. This is a book which few interested in the early history of the West will want to miss.