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The Story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

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The Story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
By Noah Brooks. Edited by John Cooley. (Dover Publications, Mineola, New York: 2004. Pg. xvi, 395. Illustrations.) ISBN: 0-486-43756-6.

Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - January 5, 2005

The adventures of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark have enthralled readers ever since the first account of their expedition to the Pacific was first published. The new Dover edition of The Story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, by Noah Brooks is an unabridged republication of Brooks' book that was originally published by Charles Scribner's Sons of New York in 1901, under the title First Across the Continent: The Story of the Exploring Expedition of Lewis and Clark in 1803-4-5. Other than shortening the title of the book, this Dover edition is identical to the original, and includes all the same illustrations found in the first edition. Some of the illustrations in this book are from Clark's original survey, with the vast majority being the work of George Catlin.

The Story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition is written in a flowing, easygoing prose that is a pleasure to read. Brooks not only provides a detailed and intimate account of the Lewis and Clark expedition, but also inserts fascinating details about the Indians (first nation peoples) that they encountered along their journey, such as naming and mourning rituals and the foods they ate. Detailed descriptions of the animals and lands they traversed are also included. These details help the reader to more accurately visualize what life was like on the trail and to appreciate the truly heroic nature of their journey. In addition, throughout this text, Brooks has allowed the intrepid explorers to speak for themselves by including copious excerpts from their journals.

In 1803, Congress gave its approval for an expeditionary force to travel to the American Northwest and President Thomas Jefferson chose as the leaders of this monumental expedition, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. For three years, these two men and their corps of twenty-six intrepid explorers traveled, mostly by foot, across the vast hinterlands of what later became the American West. Technically their journey began at the Missour River and took them to the west coast of the continent and the Pacific Ocean. As they traveled they also surveyed the lands they passed, and gathered information about the native populations. After completing this feat, they had to turn back and re-cross this territory once again. Sacajawea's role in the expedition's success is mentioned in this book, but not in detail. As a result of the Lewis and Clark expedition, a new frontier was opened, and many intrepid hunters, adventurers, settlers, and traders would eventually retrace the expedition's footsteps. Authentic and exciting, this book has a well-deserved place among the ranks of some of the best exploration / adventure narratives of American history.

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