How one man’s tale of survival and revenge transformed the American West
In the summer of 1823, a hunter named Hugh Glass was brutally mauled by a grizzly bear in the brush along a tributary of the Yellowstone River. She bit his head, punctured his throat, and ripped hunks from his body. Two comrades stayed with him at first, but soon abandoned him to the wilds. But Glass wouldn’t die. He crawled and heaved his way to safety, then vowed revenge on those who had left him for dead.
It all sounds too epic to be true, more like a campfire tale than actual history. And with good reason—nearly all we know of this story comes from secondhand accounts published in journals and magazines that promised readers back east stories of the “true” untamed West. In Here Lies Hugh Glass, the acclaimed Western historian Jon T. Coleman delves into these often contradictory accounts, looking for both the real Hugh Glass and the myth that made him something more. The Glass who emerges provides a rich, eye-opening look at the trials of life on the early frontier. At the same time, the stories told about Glass offer a window onto the imagined frontier as it developed in the minds of a young nation. These and other stories inspired a generation of Americans to go West in search of fortune and adventure. Written in engaging, vivid prose with a healthy dose of humor throughout, Here Lies Hugh Glass is a triumph.