Devil's Gate is a non-fiction companion to a novel by Sandra Dallas called True Sisters about the same topic. It explains how the worst disaster in the history of the western migrations became a symbol of the indomitable Mormon spirit.
Devil's Gate is an informative accounting of the push-cart companies along with a history of Mormonism. There were several migrations of Mormon pioneers who pushed handcarts containing all their worldly possessions from the mid-west to Salt Lake City. Many converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were from the British Isles and Scandinavia who had to pay their way. A traditional ox drawn covered wagon outfit cost about$300. Brigham Young designed handcarts, essentially large wheelbarrows, were a low cost alternative costing about $30. Many companies were successful while a few faced tremendous difficulties resulting in starvation and even death. The title refers to Devil's Gate, a natural rock formation gorge on the Sweetwater River a few miles southwest of Independence Rock in Wyoming. It was where surviving Saints waited for rescue from volunteers out of Salt Lake City.
The novel, True Sisters, focuses on one company making the 1,300 mile journey while the other is a historical account of several migration companies along with background on Mormonism and its early leaders. Many events and characters of the novel are taken from excerpts Roberts also uses from primary sources of memoirs and journals. The novel adds the feelings and emotions lacking in journals and dairies. It's a great balance to read both.