Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West
by Stephen E. Ambrose
Paperback: 502 pages
Date Published: 1996
Point: The life of Meriwether Lewis was filled with the most fascinating adventures, highest of achievements, and the most bitter of sorrow. A man in himself can never fully recover from his past, no matter how illustrious or infamous.
Path: Ambrose tracks the life of Meriwether Lewis from beginning to end, while focusing primarily on the incredible journey from Coast to Coast during the years of 1803-1806.
Sources: Ambrose thoroughly does his homework and acquaints the reader with the journals, letters, articles and accounts surrounding this amazing life.
Agreement: This was a fascinating book for two reasons. First, the endeavor was one of the most daunting and challenging ever faced. Second, the author was thorough and interesting. Some of the greatest tales ever told are not over exaggerations, but under exaggerations! What Lewis and Clark saw and experienced can never be fully imagined. It was also revealing in regard to what those from the Enlightenment would call the “noble savage.” Neither the “civilized explorers” nor “primitive Indians” acted in noble ways when faced with immoral opportunities.
Disagreement: Lewis’ final depression which brought upon his suicide was given many names, but it appears to me that he was haunted by his failures and turned to his own sources of comfort – alcohol, drugs, and finally death.
Personal App: This tale pushes me to reach for the unknown – wherever it may hide.
Favorite Quote: “Finally the party returned, with Cruzatte, who absolutely denied having shot the captain and swore he had never heard Lewis call to him.” (after Lewis was shot in the backside by one of his own men! No wonder he never admitted to it.)
Stars: 5 out of 5
It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.