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Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West Paperback – June 2, 1997
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The beginning of the book is somewhat tedious as Ambrose spends what seems like far too many pages listing off the various supplies obtained and preparations made for the voyage. Once the expedition begins, however, the book is hard to put down.
The extensive use of the actual diaries of the expedition members lends a vibrance to the descriptions of the various tribes of Indians, wildlife, and natural obstacles encountered. The diaries also offer a glimpse into the personalities of these famous figures and their crew. The holes left by the diaries and other historical documents are deftly filled in by Ambrose. He further colors the characters, settings, and situations with well grounded inference.
Additionally, the author's detailed treatment of the political situation in the United States at the time places this journey in great historic and political perspective.
Relying extensively on the Journals of Lewis and Clark, Ambrose has put together a highly entertaining, meticulously researched, wonderfully readable, and fast paced narrative that interweaves a fascinating biography of Meriwether Lewis with a spellbinding account of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Ambrose captures completely with his fast-paced narrative the key events of the Lewis and Clark expedition. With a keen eye for detail, he describes the formation of the Corps of Discovery; its ascent to the headwaters of the Missouri River and its many encounters with native tribes along the way; the crossing of the "Great Portage," the Continental Divide, and the Rocky Nountains; and its encampment in November 1805 on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, at the mouth of the Columbia River. Also described is the expedition's return voyage, when the expedition once again searched in vain for a water route to the Pacific, and also when the expedition had its one and only hostile engagement with natives. Finally, Ambrose describes the aftermath of the expedition - how the Journals of Lewis and Clark came to be published, and the divergent (and, for Lewis, ultimately tragic) careers of these two great explorers.
I found Ambrose's portraits of the key players in this real-life drama to be superb! Lewis is a born naturalist with a keen eye for scientific observation. He's also a gifted leader of men, ever conscious of his subordinates' welfare, and always gaining from them loyalty that is complete and willingly given.Read more ›
Ambrose's admiration for Meriwether Lewis is great, but he is not remiss in pointing out when the brave captain was rash and showed bad judgement. One ominous theme that Ambrose keeps returning to is the mental illness that ran in Lewis's family. He is careful never to explicitly label an act of rashness as an "episode", but he implies it.
Anyone fascinated by native American cultures should read this book. It offers a tantalizing look at several tribes either at or immediately following "contact". If you know anything about the later history of the tribes of the Upper Missouri and Pacific Northwest, this book just drips with tragedy and none of it is spelled out in a silly melodramatic way; Ambrose's restraint makes the impact that much greater.
One thing that I found jarring about the writing in this book was Ambrose's irregular tendency to insert sentences in vernacular rather than standard written English. Lewis and Clark and their expedition are occasionally referred to as "guys" and what they are carrying is called "stuff". This sort of casual voice seemed out of place to me and broke the mood of the narrative.
If you don't expect history books to be particularly literary, but just to tell a good story, then you'll think this is a terrific book. If you are looking for a meditation on the ramifications of the L&C expedition with regard to the settling of the American West, then this book is a little sparse on analysis, although it is good about reporting salient information. Having read it, I guess I feel prepared to read more in-depth account about smaller segments of this story.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Of the several books I've read about Lewis and Clark, this is the best.Published 3 days ago by Douglas Gemmell
Typical Steven Ambrose!!!! Incredible detail and insight into the life of Lewis and his relationship with Jefferson, Clark and the cast of characters that touched his life. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Charles Dobson
Very well researched and written book! I now have a real understanding & appreciation for what the L&C expedition was felt like for those that were a part of it. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Harry
Studied the Lewis and Clarke exploration in school, but Stephen Ambrose really brought the it to life for me. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Horace Malfa
superbly written. i found it very difficult to put down. Vivid depiction of the expedition.Published 11 days ago by Patrick Findley
Steven Ambrose, once again, tells an amazing - the journey of Lewis and Clark is one of the most incredible parts of American history - this book is an absolutely great read - I... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Bob Rushok
Reading the book it seemed as if the author was on the adventure and simply reporting back what he had seen. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Scott L