POWELL SYNOPSIS

Synopsis: This nearly 300-page text coveys a familiar story in an innovative way: the semblance of a play with actor-narrators describing their respective parts. Hence, each tells his story of what happened on any given day, and describes one of the West's most harrowing down-river adventures through the canyon country carved by the Green and Colorado rivers. The saga of Major John Wesley Powell comes alive in these daily reports by the three principles, including one other actor upon the stage who suffices as a chorus (i.e., a literary device used by most Greek tragedies). What is revealed to us from history’s library may not always turn out to be what we were taught, told, or assumed it was. Sometimes the events of history as undiluted truth take a while before we can begin to sort out the facts that denote the figures who undergo scrutiny, including the nature of circumstances that highlight their names. To some, history is a dialectical process. As such, historians are able to see through the fabrication (as myths and misinformation) and move toward integrity. Hence, errors can be eliminated and the truth can be told. Then again, sometimes the process is held up and allows the fallacies, distortions, and misconstrued facts to prevail. Then again, if the process is allowed to work the way, assertions are subjected to rebuttal and inquiry that expose the grievous mistakes, or even the overstatements that some historical figures are charged with. The nature of this work is therefore all about history. Precisely, to reexamine aspects about a stupendous exploration in 19th Century Western history that was pulled off by a remarkable self-taught explorer and scientist, who many thought could not handle his self-imposed challenge. In short, a chronicle about a man of small stature who was larger than life and was admired by many people who knew him. This man, Major Powell, had a vision larger than most men aspire to, for he dared to do the seemingly impossible. His tale shows a resolute character and an equally resolute crew that rowed into history with him. As the commander of the expedition (two, in fact), he ended up taking most of the credit for these endeavors. Years later, however, and sometime after the hero and explorer of the canyon country had published his grandiose (and inflated) text, unabashed errors or omissions of details came to light, which most readers of his time (and for some years thereafter) weren't aware of. Even long after his life was over, people continued to read the published chronicle and accepted the major's version as indisputable truth. The reason for making this assumption was because Major Powell reprised his adventures (in 1871) and signed on another crew to accompany him––but failed to mention this fact in the 1895 published text. Neither did he mention the names of the other crew members. Instead, he telescoped both expeditions as though there was one longer excursion! Consequently, his former and sound reputation as a hero was tarnished. In time, there was a schism of pro Powell biographers and those who opposed him. (For more insight to this topic, see the YouTube Glen Canyon program posted on the right side of the webpage.)