At the dawn of the 19th century, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark embarked on an unprecedented journey from St. Louis, Missouri to the Pacific Ocean and back again. Their assignment was to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Territory and record the geography, flora, fauna, and people they encountered along the way. The tale of their incredible journey, meticulously recorded in their journals, has become an American classic.
This single-volume, landmark edition of the famous journals is the first abridgement to be published in at least a decade. Series editor Anthony Brandt and Lewis and Clark scholar Herman J. Viola have reviewed all 13 volumes of the text to include a more balanced account of encounters with Native Americans and have, for the first time in print, corrected Lewis and Clark's famously bad spelling. This new edition presents the journey's impressive highlights--from first encounters with grizzly bears and meetings with the Sioux and Crow Indians, to the near starvation in the Bitterroot Mountains and confrontation with the Blackfeet Indians. Brief connecting accounts from the editors seamlessly link connected passages and illuminate details of the expedition that are missing or obscure in the text.
Featuring an expedition map, an introduction by Anthony Brandt that describes America at the start of Lewis and Clark's amazing journey, and an afterword by Herman Viola that illuminates the historical significance of the mission, this single-volume edition brings to life the epic grandeur of the greatest adventure in American history.
The epic Lewis and Clark Expedition comes to life on a human scale in this engrossing abridgment of the explorers' journals. The travelers spent more than two years traveling up the Missouri, across the Rockies to the Pacific and back, and these accounts leave no doubt that it was a very hard slog. Page after page details the drudgery of paddling and hauling the boats upstream, the maddening mosquitoes and the enervating damp of the Pacific Northwest; virtually every entry includes an anxious tally of the game killed that day to feed the party. But the sober, soldierly tone of the journals often gives way to lyrical descriptions of the terrain and wildlife of the magnificent landscapes through which the expedition passed (hair-raising encounters with grizzlies are a persistent refrain). Particularly intriguing are the portraits of the Indian peoples the explorers encountered, with whom they maintained mostly friendly relations. Although burdened by the prejudices of the age, Lewis and Clark recognized the complexity of the attitudes and motivations of the Indians, who wavered between wariness of white men and eagerness to trade with them and enlist their support in the convoluted inter-tribal politics of the West. The editor's assiduous untangling of the explorers' notoriously bad spelling, punctuation and grammar, helpful notes and maps and fluent synopses of the duller stretches of the narrative make the journals accessible to a general readership. In the words of Smithsonian Institution curator emeritus Herman J. Viola, who contributes an afterword, these journals are "an American classic in the truest sense."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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November 30, 2002
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