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The True Account: A Novel of the Lewis and Clark and Kinneson Expeditions (Lewis & Clark Expedition) Hardcover – June 5, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Yet another novel that anticipates the 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark's expedition, this clever account by Mosher (A Stranger in the Kingdom, etc.) breaks with form, to hilarious effect. Private True Teague Kinneson, a Vermont schoolteacher and inventor, writes to Jefferson to recommend himself for the expedition to the Pacific. When Jefferson announces that he's already appointed Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, True, with his teenage nephew, Ticonderoga, in tow, heads West anyway, determined to reach the Pacific first. Ticonderoga narrates their adventures, describing with a straight face the schemes of his daffy uncle. True is an odd duck, strutting around in a chain-mail vest, an Elizabethan codpiece and a red cloth cap with a bell attached. The cap covers a copper helmet that protects his skull, which was injured, he improbably claims, during his tenure with Ethan Allen's regiment at Fort Ticonderoga. He also gleefully indulges a daily cannabis habit, which perhaps accounts for some of the above eccentricities. As the pair travel to Monticello and points west, they come across all manner of outlandish characters: Daniel Boone's sexpot daughter, Danielle; an angry badger; and many Indian tribes, friendly and not. Meanwhile, Ti lovingly paints his experiences onto canvas, True corresponds with the Kinneson clan back in Vermont and the pair keep in touch with their rivals, Lewis and Clark. Fun and fanciful with much to savor, Mosher's novel demonstrates a boundless imagination and a light comic touch.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Writing in a 19th-century style, Mosher uses episode and adventure to tell about the efforts of the idiosyncratic and addled Private True Teague Kinneson and his nephew, Ticonderoga (the narrator), to beat the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific Coast. They work with the explorers as much as they try to best them, and along the way must deal with all manner of problems and characters. The women are the men's equals and the Indians are seen as the decent and undeserving victims of their fates to come. These modern-day ideas benefit the book by removing what now may seem like the rough edges of 19th-century mores, and allowing readers to enjoy this classic form. And there is a good deal of enjoyment as the heroes overcome one impediment after another, as well as in the way the characters are portrayed. Many of them tend toward caricature, but none is treated with anything less than respect. Readers are treated to adventure and comedy, without losing any of the seriousness of the actual events. If this fun book leads them to try some of the classics of this genre, then that's all the better.
Ted Westervelt, Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Lewis & Clark Expedition
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; First Edition edition (June 5, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618197214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618197217
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,490,150 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 Ron Franscell, Author of 'The Darkest Night' on June 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Mark Twain knew it: Truth is stranger than fiction -- but lies are far more interesting than truth.
And Howard Frank Mosher, as splendid a liar as Twain himself, might have delivered the most interesting book you'll read during the upcoming, three-year bicentennial of Lewis and Clark's 1804-06 expedition in search of the Northwest Passage.
But be forewarned: If you're among those humorless academics who believe history should not be trifled with by liars, you must certainly skip "The True Account: A Novel of the Lewis & Clark & Kinneson Expeditions," perhaps the funniest historical novel about the West since "Little Big Man."
Thanks to a recently discovered manuscript hidden for 200 years, we now know that Lewis and Clark were the first runners-up in the race to the Pacific Ocean. The adventurer who beat them (just barely)? Private True Teague Kinneson, a Vermont schoolmaster, veteran of the Ethan Allen's Green Mountain Boys, playwright, inventor, narco-agronomist and explorer.
Wearing a belled nightcap to cover the copper plate screwed into his skull (a prosthetic made necessary by a life-altering blow sustained while drinking rum with Ethan Allen), a suit of chain-mail, galoshes and an Elizabethan codpiece, Private Kinneson begins his journey with his artistic nephew, Ticonderoga, into terra incognita.
Why? He wishes to teach Indian tribes of the West how to cultivate hemp, which he describes as "That panacea for all the spiritual ills of mankind." Oh, and to beat Lewis and Clark.
Along their path to the Pacific, True and Ti encounter highwaymen, hostile and not-so-hostile Indians, horny women, cannibals, a circus of freaks, and some of the great real-life people of the day, such as Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Boone (and his frisky daughter Flame), and Sacagawea.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on July 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"As he was drinking rum flip with Ethan...my uncle lost his footing and struck his head so sharp a blow on the gate of the fort that he never, I am grieved to report, quite regained his correct wits." --- Ticonderoga Kinneson
Ticonderoga Kinneson's explanation paints the personality picture of his uncle, Private True Kinneson. True's exploits in THE TRUE ACCOUNT are acts that reflect his ribald imagination. The young Ti, an artist in his own right, assumes the gargantuan task of keeping track of True's heroic enterprises. THE TRUE ACCOUNT celebrates the Lewis and Clark expedition bicentennial as a fictional account of what might have been if there was a race to the Pacific between two exploring groups.
In 1804, True and Ti set out from their home in Vermont on an expedition to the Pacific, ahead of Lewis and Clark. True meets with President Jefferson and receives approval to begin the trip, but without official funds. His hilarious attempt to raise money is through proceeds from his original pay. Not well received, the drama gets him run out of town where he stages it. Undaunted, he moves from Monticello to the Natchez Trace, where the race begins.
His misadventures continue when he meets Flame Danielle Boone, Daniel's daughter, an army of Spaniards and Anasazis, the Nez Perce, Shoshone and Blackfoot tribes. Dressed as a Don Quixote figure, Private True rides a broken-down mule and brandishes an arquebus as his weapon. Chain mail, a belled night stocking and galoshes complete his usual attire. Fifteen-year-old Ti spends much of his time tracking the errant uncle. A conversation with Meriwether Lewis reveals that the high-spirited True is a religious devotee of the use of hemp plant. Lewis is astonished when True confesses to sharing his smoke with a child of five years.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Matthew S. Sedota on August 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. I loved this story. I loved the Sunday afternoon spent with a truly original, imaginative, and entertaining story. Mosher has always written funny, intriguing stories of Northern Vermont, The Kingdom, and the characters doing their daily living. All of his books are treasures of backwoods, small, American lives. True Teague Kinneson lives on as the leader of the expedition that beat Lewis & Clark, and takes his place as one of the most unique and memorable literary characters ever. Perhaps the man is just a bit touched. But that's ok, because I can't find much wrong with his life philosophy, or the care and respect he has for the land, the people he meets, and most of all, his family. (I recommend all of Mosher's earlier works...especially "A Stranger in The Kingdom" and "Northern Borders")
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Holly Weiss VINE VOICE on August 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
This crazy romp across the country in a race to beat Lewis and Clark was amusing. A brain-damaged Revolutionary war hero and his nephew, an artist, set out to the Pacific. I found the book quixotic and off-beat, but it did not hold my interest.
Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Warm up your sense of humor, sit back, relax and take a trip with two guys who showed Lewis & Clark the way. This book is just plain fun. It isn't a history book - but it isn't meant to be. I just wish real history books were as pleasurable to read (and they could be).

Mosher lets us ride along with Private True Teague Kinneson and his nephew Ti, short for Ticonderoga, as they blaze the trail from Vermont to the Pacific via Boston, New York, DC, Monticello and points west.

I know this isn't the way it really happened. But it would be a blast if it had. Treat yourself to an enjoyable book.
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