Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West Paperback – Jun 2 1997
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A biography of Meriwether Lewis that relies heavily on the journals of both Lewis and Clark, this book is also backed up by the author's personal travels along Lewis and Clark's route to the Pacific. Ambrose is not content to simply chronicle the events of the "Corps of Discovery" as the explorers called their ventures. He often pauses to assess the military leadership of Lewis and Clark, how they negotiated with various native peoples and what they reported to Jefferson. Though the expedition failed to find Jefferson's hoped for water route to the Pacific, it fired interest among fur traders and other Americans, changing the face of the West forever. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Ambrose has written prolifically about men who were larger than life: Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Colonel Custer. Here he takes on half of the two-headed hero of American exploration: Meriwether Lewis. Ambrose, his wife and five children have followed the footsteps of the Lewis and Clark expedition for 20 summers, in the course of which the explorer has become a friend of the Ambrose family; the author's affection shines through this narrative. Meriwether Lewis, as secretary to Thomas Jefferson and living in the White House for two years, got his education by being apprenticed to a great man. Their friendship is at the center of this account. Jefferson hand-picked Lewis for the great cross-country trek, and Lewis in turn picked William Clark to accompany him. The two men shook hands in Clarksville, Ohio, on October 14, 1803, then launched their expedition. The journals of the expedition, most written by Clark, are one of the treasures of American history. Here we learn that the vital boat is behind schedule; the boat builder is always drunk, but he's the only one available. Lewis acts as surveyor, builder and temperance officer in his effort to get his boat into the river. Alcohol continues to cause him problems both with the men of his expedition and later, after his triumphant return, in his own life, which ended in suicide at the age of 35. Without adding a great deal to existing accounts, Ambrose uses his skill with detail and atmosphere to dust off an icon and put him back on the trail west. History Book Club main selection; BOMC split selection; QPB alternate; author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Descriptions & Interpretations from the original journals - superb.
Multiple points of view, Lewis, Clark, the members of the corps of discovery, native americans, etc. Ambrose brings these to life.
Intricate step by step accounts of the trip.
At times it just moves along too slowly - Ambrose could have made it a bit more concise.
Confusing ending, did Lewis commit suicide? Was he muredered, Ambroses' guesses leave something to be desired.
All in all this is a good book which should be read by any aspiring student of history.
Ambrose organized the story in chronological order, beginning with Lewis's childhood. He continues with the details on Lewis's teen and adult life, and continues on through the expedition and the events after the expedition's return. Lewis's childhood and adulthood prior to the expedition is details through the first six chapters. Chapter seven begins with the preparation for the expedition, detailing how the men who went on the expedition were chosen, the gathering of supplies, and the difficulties. The joint captainship of the expedition by Lewis and Clark magnifies how well they worked together. Chapters 8 through 12 detail the first year of the expedition. It begins with the travels of Lewis from Washington to Pittsburgh, where the expedition gathered and prepared to set off. The first leg of the journey down the Ohio River to the Missouri River to the winter camp of 1803 is told with emphasis on discoveries of new wildlife. Chapters 13 through 18 relate encounters with the Mandan and Sioux Indians. The winter of 1804 was spent at Fort Mandan with the Mandan Indians, who were very friendly. The expedition then continued up the Missouri River and encountered the Sioux. Unlike the Mandan Indians, the Sioux were hostile and demanded goods to let the expedition continue up the river.Read more ›
This expedition would have been successful enough if the only object was to reach the west coast. But Jefferson charged Lewis and Clark with forming alliances with the Indians, cataloguing the flora and fauna, and mapping the entire vast region. Although of course the Northwest Passage didn't exist, the scope of what the team did was enormous, and we know so much about it today because of the voluminous journals that were kept.
The end of the story is quite sad, however. Publishing the journals proved difficult, and Lewis' life deteriorated after a burst of fame on his return, for reasons not entirely clear. But he accomplished something under conditions that would be unthinkable today, and Ambrose ably conveys the challenges and hardship of this great adventure.
Most recent customer reviews
Ambrose, Stephen (1996). Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jef-ferson, and the Opening of the American West. New York: Simon & Schuster. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Arthur Wenk
I listened to this as a Book on Tape as read by Barret Whitener.
In terms of the technical quality of the book and narrative I had no complaints. Read more
I was disappointed in this book, which I listened to on tape. It was terribly wordy, and took every opportunity to drum in the obvious or reiterate the dangers, deprivations,... Read morePublished on May 13 2004
Parents, If you're looking for a good history book for your children to read, please beware.
While Ambrose credibly presents the exploits of the Corps of Discovery, he also... Read more
This is a biography of Lewis and not, as most assume, a history of the Lewis and Clark exploration. Ambrose himself goes to great length to point this out. Read morePublished on Jan. 28 2004 by John Bauer
I really enjoyed this book and looked forward to reading it every day. I found it a little difficult in the beginning (although I'd just finished the Harry Potter series, so maybe... Read morePublished on Dec 8 2003 by Amazon.com Fan
The book basically follows the journals of Lewis & Clark as they make their way west. It gets a bit tedious at times to hear of how Lewis shot yet another buffalo for dinner... Read morePublished on Nov. 15 2003
"Undaunted Courage," by the great American author Stephen E. Ambrose is a book that will always be remembered. Read morePublished on Nov. 10 2003 by Bert Ruiz
I took the advice of that author, Norman Thomas Remick, who wrote that sterling review of this book and, generally, complimented Stephen Ambrose as being the best. He is right. Read morePublished on Nov. 8 2003 by A.F.Shin
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