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Shannon: A Poem of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 26, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 113 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1 edition (May 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061661295
  • ASIN: B008SM8ATK
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,298,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The youngest member of Lewis and Clark's adventure, George Shannon rode off by himself to retrieve some lost horses, but got lost amid the endless buffalo pastures in what is now Nebraska. McGrath's book-length poem follows Shannon's thoughts, hopes and observations during his time alone. The young man faces practical difficulties: how will he hunt without bullets, how cook his food? I am troubled to light a fire/ Lest it be the Sioux/ That take it as a signal. As the poem continues, Shannon's musings turn to theology, national destiny and (since he is 18) sex: If my thoughts arise/ Direct from this land/ How other than God-ordained/ Could they be? Neat visual effects (one page bears only the single word buffalo) complement McGrath's sharp focus on his single character's mind. Will he survive? (Such a hunter as myself/ With game abounding to wither & starve/ Seems unlucky.) Will he find his way back to his posse? Will America realize its own destiny? Should it? McGrath's careful poem comes a few years after Lewis and Clark–themed novels (by Brian Hall and Diane Glancy), a bit late for the Lewis and Clark centennial; the poem should win notice on its very accessible merits nonetheless. (June)
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From Booklist

On August 26, 1804, Lewis and Clark assigned two men the task of rounding up two runaway horses. The next day one man but neither of the horses nor 19-year-old George Shannon rejoined the expedition. After 16 days, the expedition came upon Shannon, starved into inactivity but alive. He seemed to have overshot the line of march. The best educated of Lewis and Clark’s men, who later studied law and became a judge, Shannon never wrote up his adventure (or adventures, for he got lost again later that year). McGrath’s engrossing and lyrical, 15-part dramatic monologue (one part per day, starting August 27) does the job for him, vividly realizing an intelligent, self-possessed youngster, a little impetuous, of whom we feel it would be a shame if he expired among the buffalo. Shannon has bits of the poet, the painter, and the historian in him, such that he appreciates the singularity and the spirituality of his experience, not just its loneliness and danger. --Ray Olson

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Surely there have been countless words written about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, but for this reader none could be as trenchant and affecting as this narrative poem by Campbell McGrath. Rather than painting a large picture of the Expedition McGrath has chosen to focus on one incident in the life of one soldier, which make the author's words all the more compelling. The soldier is Private George Shannon, the youngest member of the group.

The author introduces his poem with two journal entries by William Clark dated August 26 and 27, 1804. In the first he notes that Shannon and another soldier (Drouillard) have been left behind to find horses that were lost during the night and then they were to follow the other soldiers. The second entry reveals Drouillard reported the next morning that he could not find Shannon or the horses.

Thus begins Shannon's lonely 16 day odyssey through the prairie as he searches for his fellow soldiers and battles starvation. His ammunition and provisions had run out. There was meat aplenty but he had nothing with which to kill it. As it happened, Shannon believed he was following his comrades but he was actually ahead of them, and they were eventually reunited.

What we now have are Shannon's imagined thoughts during his unimaginable journey. Obviously, he is not part of any official record as he was missing for some length of time but McGrath proves a powerful voice for the young American who sees our country's early frontier as it once was and entertains thoughts of God, his personal place in the universe, his family, and the girl he left behind.

Shannon is a remarkably insightful work of great beauty.

Highly recommended.

- Gail Cooke
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Hank on August 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Campbell McGrath is one of my favorite poets and I have read all of his published works. This is one of his very best. I was intrigued to learn of his subject matter for this book because McGrath is most associated with commentary on contemporary culture. But then it became obvious - he is using both contemporary and historical settings to examine the uniquely American spirit which fascinates him.

The poem is completely engrossing, largely due to the engaging 'voice' of Shannon the narrator. McGrath has given him a personality which reflects his intelligence and his concern for his role in family, religion, the Lewis and Clark expedition, the countryside he traverses, and the society in which he lived. It is very convincing and makes the poem extremely enjoyable to read, leaving a lasting impression of Shannon and the world in which he lived.

Very highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wish more history would be written in prose rather than boring, dry facts. Beautiful imagery and the free-flowing thoughts of a young man separated from the Lewis & Clark Expedition. This fictional re-creation seems as accurate as if Shannon had filled the pages of his own journal.
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