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The Character of Meriwether Lewis

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The Character of Meriwether Lewis
Explorer in the Wilderness. Essays on One of the Most Remarkable Men in American History. By by Clay S. Jenkinson. Foreword by David Nicandri. The Dakota Institute Press, Washburn, North Dakota: 2011. Pg. 457. 15 B&W & 6 Color Illustrations, 3 Maps.). Distributed by (University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN: 978-0-9825597-3-4.

Reviewed by Herbert White - December 19, 2011

The Character of Meriwether Lewis is an eye opening biography of Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809), his accomplishments, his relationship with William Clark, and his impact on history. Written by Clay S. Jenkinson, this book includes seven essays that strip away the hype and mythos that surround this enigmatic man and exposes the real Lewis, flaws and all, to the world. Jenkinson also explores the reasons behind Lewis's suicide in 1809, and the mystery that has surrounded it. This account also provides a unique glimpse into the dynamics of Lewis and Clark's personal and professional relationship and by so doing, provides new insights into their history changing expedition across America.

Jenkinson is the director of the Dakota Institute of the Lewis & Clark Fort Mandan Foundation A Rhodes Scholar. He is the author of nine books, including A Free and Hardy Life: Theodore Roosevelt's Sojourn in the American West and Becoming Jefferson's People: Re-Inventing the American Republic in the Twenty-First Century. In The Character of Meriwether Lewis he provides an in-depth glimpse into Lewis's life, his achievements, and the personal demons that he had to deal with. In the process, using Lewis's own journals and letters, Jenkinson provides new insights into this complex man and this volume is sure to engender a great deal of debate - for example did Lewis really commit suicide as Jenkinson contends, or was he murdered as has ofttimes been claimed.

This volume includes six original color illustrations painted by Michael Haynes, along with fifteen black & white illustrations and three maps. Jenkinson has included endnotes and an up-to-date bibliography on Meriwether Lewis that will prove a boon to anyone seeking to explore the life and times of Meriwether Lewis in greater detail.


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The Story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, by Noah Brooks.
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Pathfinder - John Charles Fremont and the Course of American Empire, by Tom Chaffin.
A comprehensive biography of John Charles Fremont and the impact that he had on America's imperial ambitions.

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