Short Takes: Nov. 2, 1992


A Grueling Tale of Frontier Horror

IN 1846 A BAND OF SETTLERS LEFT ILLInois for California. They ended up stranded in the Sierra Nevada at the outset of the worst winter ever recorded there. By the time the starving survivors straggled into Sutter's Fort, THE DONNER PARTY had written one of the darkest chapters in American history, a tale of humans reduced to the most desperate circumstances -- including, famously, cannibalism. For this PBS documentary, Ric Burns, a co-producer with his brother Ken of The Civil War, uses the same techniques as that series -- archival photographs, readings from diaries...

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