The Way to the Western Sea: Lewis and Clark Across the Continent

David Sievert Lavender, Author HarperCollins Publishers $22.95 (444p) ISBN 978-0-06-015982-5
Lavender's suspenseful, moving, detailed re-creation of the Lewis and Clark expedition (1804-06) transforms their schoolbook exploit into the stuff of high adventure and American tragedy. The implicit tragedy lies not only in the explorers' guerrilla warfare with Indians, which foreshadowed tribal destruction, but there is also a personal dimension to their saga, he shows. President Thomas Jefferson picked Captain Meriwether Lewis, an army adventurer prone to melancholia, to lead this risky probe of the continent's interior; joining him was Lieutenant William Clark, explorer and mapmaker, along with soldiers, Indian guides, a black slave. After the expedition, Lewis turned to the bottle, drifted, severed ties with Jefferson and finally killed himself. Clark, who became a superintendent of Indian affairs, won the Indians' trust as ``Red Head Chief.'' Lavender's ( Bent's Fort , etc.) spellbinding narrative captures the mingled awe, courage, fear and curiosity of two stumblers into the heart of darkness. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 789 pages - 978-0-8032-8061-8
Paperback - 444 pages - 978-0-8032-8003-8
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