Lewis and Clark on the Trail of Discovery: An Interactive History with Removable Artifacts

Rod Gragg, Author Thomas Nelson Publishers $34.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4016-0075-4
The most distinctive features of this coffee-table""Museum in a Book"" are the lavish illustrations and accouterments. Color paintings depict tableaux from watershed moments in the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the author attaches many removable facsimile reproductions of original documents associated with it. Copied on faux tattered parchment, these include journal entries and letters by Lewis and Clark, an encryption scheme devised by Jefferson, inventories and payrolls, hand-drawn maps, sketches of wildlife and a drawing of an Indian head-flattening device. These intriguing items are accompanied by a slender, boosterish narrative. Historian Gragg, author of Confederate Goliath: The Battle for Fort Fisher, salutes the leadership skills of Lewis and Clark, extols the scenery, nods respectfully to the Indian cultures along the way, plays up the contributions of Sacagawea and generally applauds the""epic journey"" that""forged a nation"" and""altered the course of history."" But the Expedition was a long, arduous slog: one member died of a ruptured appendix; there was a fight with a small party of Indians, resulting in two Indian casualties, and some run-ins with grizzlies unhappy about being shot at; and Lewis was shot in the leg by a companion who mistook him for an elk. Gragg's treatment falls short of a nation-building adventure saga, but the interesting documentary""artifacts"" lend a period authenticity that may captivate history buffs--especially younger ones.
Reviewed on: 06/01/2003
Release date: 06/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
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