3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Stepping into Paradise,
By A Customer
This review is from: Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West (Lewis & Clark Expedition) (Hardcover)One elaborate sentence governed the emergence of the American West. It was penned by President Thomas Jefferson to Captain Meriwether Lewis, in 1803: "The object of your mission is to explore the Missouri river, & such principal stream of it, as, by it's [sic] course and communication with the waters of the Pacific ocean, whether the Columbia, Oregan [sic], Colorado or any other river may offer the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent for the purposes of commerce." With Jefferson's pronouncement the stage is set for Stephen E. Ambrose and Undaunted Courage, his masterful re-telling of the story of the Corps of Discovery, as the expedition members were called, and especially of Lewis, its 30 year-old commander.
Foregoing a college education to take over running of the family plantation in Virginia, Lewis was at an early age already an established member of the community. When the Louisiana Purchase became reality, it was to Lewis, his Private Secretary and friend of two years, that Jefferson turned to head the expedition.
Accordingly, in May, 1804 Lewis, joined by William Clark and 29 others, crossed the Missouri and began his famous trek to explore the vast plains and mountains beyond the then-limits of civilization. Twenty-eight months later they emerged from the wilderness to a country that had never really expected to see them again.
Early chapters are devoted to circumstances surrounding the outfitting of the expedition. Then, in Chapter 8 we set out on this tremendous voyage of discovery, a monumental undertaking that would prove to be a watermark of scientific knowledge of the new continent, achieving high praise for some, and grave disappointment to others. (Lewis had difficulty obtaining success after the expedition, committing suicide in 1809.) Ambrose calls him "the greatest of all American explorers," and this fine book brings Lewis and his company to life. I think you will enjoy it.