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"Murder At The Mission" By Blaine Harden

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In 1836, two missionaries and their wives were among the first Americans to cross the Rockies by covered wagon on what would become the Oregon Trail. Dr. Marcus Whitman and Reverend Henry Spalding were headed to present-day Washington state and Idaho, where they aimed to convert members of the Cayuse and Nez Perce tribes. Both would fail spectacularly as missionaries. But Spalding would succeed as a propagandist, inventing a story that recast his friend as a hero, and helped to fuel the massive westward migration that would eventually lead to the devastation of those they had purportedly set out to save.

Blaine Harden is a contributor to The Economist, PBS Frontline, and Foreign Policy and has formerly served as The Washington Post’s bureau chief in East Asia and Africa as well as a local and national correspondent for The New York Times and as a writer for the Times Magazine. He is the author of four previous books, including the international bestseller Escape from Camp 14.