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In Search of York: The Slave Who Went to the Pacific with Lewis and Clark, Revised Edition Paperback – November 5, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Robert Bett's biography of York, Clark's black slave who accompanied the Lewis and Clark Expedition, is the finest study ever written about this significant yet elusive member of the Corps of Discovery...The documentary evidence provided by Betts indicat

About the Author

The late Robert B. Betts graduated from Harvard, was a successful advertising executive in New York City, and regularly contributed to the Lewis and Clark journal We Proceeded On.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Colorado; Revised edition (November 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870817140
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870817144
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.5 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #951,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on March 7, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book for the first time about ten years ago. On re-reading it, I experienced the same general mood I remembered from the first time around: sadness.

When the men in the Corps of Discovery returned to St. Louis after their two-and-a-half year journey to the Pacific Northwest, they were amply rewarded, with money and land, by a gushing Congress. All of them but one, that is. York, William Clark's slave, had traveled with all the rest of the men. He's mentioned occasionally in the journals written by some of the expedition's members (not the least of whom are Lewis and Clark). He pulled his weight in the physical toil of the journey; he appears to have been a good hunter; his blackness, a fascinating novelty to a few of the Indian tribes the Corps encountered, seems to have been a cultural ice-breaker on at least one occasion; and he was accepted as a bona fide member by the other Corpsmen, given that there are no negative comments made of him by any of the journal writers and that he was given a vote equal to any other Corps member's on two separate occasions. Yet, on the Corps' return to civilization, York became invisible again: a man with no last name, a slave, a piece of property. Chattel.

So it is with the invisibles of history, the people who our cultural blindspots just won't allow us to see. For too many years, blacks and Indians have been the invisibles in US history. It's as if they never existed. They vanish without leaving a ripple on the pond, and this is incredibly sad.

That's why In Search of York is such an important book, because in it Robert Betts tried to overcome cultural blindness by painstakingly searching out and documenting as much information about York as he could.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Clare on August 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
There's some good information about York on the web, but the best source is the biography In Search of York. This fascinating and well-illustrated book brings together all that is known of York. It is not only a great book about York, but one of the best books in the L&C literature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Lee on January 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most Americans learn about the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the first decade of the 19th century while in elementary school. It is an amazing tale, really. Two young men, friends, with military experience, one of them President Jefferson's secretary, are charged with assembling a team to examine the western part of the continent as the young U.S. attempts to acquire new territories. The group was gone engaged in this for several years, nearly perished numerous times, were saved almost providentially by the interventions of a young Indian girl, a dog, and - historian Betts demonstrates - the gifts and abilities of Clark's slave York.

This is truly an exhaustive examination of the literature for the realities, the myths, the possibilities, and the probabilities of the life of this important man. Betts tells the powerful and tragic tale of two boys, red-headed William Clark and the probably slightly younger family slave York who grew up together as playmates, served together on the Expedition, and then grew apart after returning to St. Louis. In a certain sense, York's tale is dependent upon Clark and others, Betts makes clear, since York himself wasn't equipped to document his own story. And since the primary purposes of journalists such as Clark, Lewis, and others was to tell a different story, York is illuminated briefly and obliquely. Betts does an excellent job of pulling together what is know, what may be sensibly surmised, and what is just wrong about preexisting Yorkian legend.
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In Search of York: The Slave Who Went to the Pacific with Lewis and Clark, Revised Edition
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