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Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery Hardcover – September 30, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Having chronicled the Civil War and baseball, among other subjects, filmmaker Ken Burns collaborates with historian Dayton Duncan to craft this moving portrait of the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-6. The story is one of individual triumph and tragedy, and its cast members--a slave, several women who save the expedition at key moments, and veterans of a bitterly fought revolution--represent the early Republic in microcosm. Packed with well-chosen illustrations, Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery is a fine synthesis of what we know about Meriwether Lewis and William Clark today, knowledge that remains shrouded in a certain mystery.

From Library Journal

Having covered the Civil War and baseball in masterly documentaries, filmmaker Burns has now prepared a documentary on the Lewis and Clark expedition. Duncan (Out West, Doubleday, 1996) wrote the script for the film and this companion volume, which tells the story of that epic journey in a straightforward manner. The challenge in both film and book is to tell a familiar tale in a new way. The authors meet that challenge by retracing the expedition's route and incorporating their experiences into the story. Interspersed throughout are quotations from the journals and illustrations in the form of paintings, photographs both historic and current, and facsimiles of the journals. William Least Heat Moon, Stephen Ambrose, and Erica Funkhouser have written brief essays on aspects of the expedition. Sidebars include such topics as new plants and animals encountered, the publication of the journals, and Lewis's Newfoundland dog, Seaman. An excellent introduction to the expedition for public and school libraries.
-?Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (September 30, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679454500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679454502
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.8 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #223,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 22, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Duncan uses a variety of forms to paint a wonderfully realistic picture of the expedition, its hardships, its glory and its danger. He weaves together quotes from many of the explorers' journals, actual photographs of their journals with drawings and maps, photographs and paintings of scenes along the trail as well as his own well-crafted narrative. I devoured the book in a five-hour plane ride and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I'm sure that it is not a comprehensive description of all that is known about Lewis and Clark, but it was brief enough to keep a casually interested reader involved and thorough enough to provide some real richness and color to the story and to intrigue me enough to plan a visit to some sites along the trail.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By John S Comeaux on November 9, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
I give high praise to this book and this reading. You will learn so much about the journey, and you'll feel the cold of the winters and the wonderment of their adventures. Taken from their actual journals, this book is even better than "Undaunted Courage". p.s. the unabridged is even better.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Proud Italian on September 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book was so hard to put down! The way the author combines the facts with the actual quotes from the Lewis and Clark journals (complete with spelling errors), the original sketches and descriptions by Lewis and Clark, old pictures and paintings, and the attention to the sequencing (i.e., he walks you straight through the entire journey and makes it flow) really makes this book come alive for me. I highly recommend it!!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 22, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I liked this book very much because Duncan doesn't go into boring details about everything little thing. He explained the main points and the interesting ones without the boring insignificant details. If your interested in learning about Lewis and Clark, I would read this book first before reading an in-depth book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. Parry on April 30, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an "easy to read" introduction to the journey of the Corps of Discovery and the official companion book to Ken Burn's PBS documentary. I keep it handy when I'm re-reading Ambrose's classic book Undaunted Courage. What highlights this book are the numerous illustrations, paintings, journal sketches, photographs, and film images taken from the PBS documentary, something visual appears on almost every page. Numerous pages from Lewis and Clark diaries have been reproduced, including a few maps,descriptions of unknown birds and animals, lists of gifts to be given to natives, the code matrix used to send secret messages to President Jefferson, list of provisions, etc. Scattered throughout the text are modern day color photographs and paintings of various locations along the journey, including numerous side box commentary and page long essays to help the reader understand the danger and challenges of trailblazing.
This journey was truly a monumental physical, mental and spiritual journey. Besides Lewis and Clark, four other members of the Corps of Discovery kept journals and are often quoted. I felt like I was there with them, experiencing their raw emotion, sometimes turbulent spirits, but above all, constant surprise and discovery along the trail. The authors spend significant time describing the culturally diverse native populations they encounter along the way, and you'll find out why some tribes became obstacles while others were crucial to their success. If you enjoyed reading the book Undaunted Courage, you will also want this illustrated history loaded with color and B/W photos, charts, paitings, sketches,etc. on almost every page (albeit it short on maps). You won't be dissappointed!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. G. Fortosis on December 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
I listened to the audio while I did household chores. I don't quibble with the fact that this was an astonishing feat. I don't think most people understand just how astonishing. Here was a group of men without the medicine, the transportation, the wildlife knowledge, the below zero clothing/gear, the freeze-dried foods we have today---yet this party trekked through the virgin territory between our coasts and back. Important to note also, throughout this trip they were able to somehow retain their scalps from some seriously hostile Indian tribes.

The authors (at least in the audio version) move quickly over undoubtedly some of the toughest parts of the journey. For example, when the party trekked through massive, frigid mountain ranges, very little is explained regarding how they did so without losing various appendages to starvation and frostbite.

Strangely, in spite of what I relate above, I was much more impressed by the actual feat accomplished than the writing of the book. The book itself in audio was just okay. I would not listen to it again, if that tells you anything. I don't know if anyone has penned a better rendition of the trek or not; all I can tell you is my own reaction.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By loren on February 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
i really didn't know much about this part of history and therefore didn't realize what this small team of men did in the pioneering of america. many people view this journey as admirable. i see it as a mixture of blessing and curse: blessing in the scientific descovery of so many plants and animals and also to find out there was no northwest passage and how expansive the land of america truly is. The curse of course is that it opened up the west more for the white man to intrude to the point of killing off the true americans--the american indian, killing not only people of the time but killing entire cultures and populations forever.

Lewis and clark went from tribe to tribe naively stating that they represented the new nation america who now owned the land and that they were there to bring peace and prosperity to the american indian nations. The intrusion of foreign men from Britain, canada, france, and spain to north america did nothing but bring harm and destruction to the pristine world untouched by the greed of mankind.

some interesting details were that the team at one point were eating 8lbs of buffalo per day per person when they were in the plains. Now that's alot of meat. They suffered starvation, and deprevation of all sorts and for what really? To divide and conquer? Because years later, after all the pomp and glory was over, Lewis ends of killing himself.

The team found that they preferred eating dog meat and even that indians mocked them for this. The indians sold many dogs to the team to eat.

the illustrations are nice as well but overall i would really suggest even though it is a nice book to just watch the dvd that was made by pbs. i really enjoyed it more than the book.
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