2013: Undaunted Courage

"From the west-facing window of the room in which Meriweather Lewis was born on August 18 1774, one could look out at Rockfish Gap, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, an opening to the West that invited exploration"

Undaunted Courage: Meriweather Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West, Stephen Ambrose

As I mentioned in my Team of Rivals post, we took a family trip to the Pacific Northwest last February/March to visit Jon's brother.  We were supposed to take the trip the previous summer (booked the tickets and everything), but we had to cancel because of work commitments, and March turned out to be the latest we could push it back, and still keep our tickets.  So off we went to our winter exploration.  And while it wasn't the traditional time to be in the Pacific Northwest,* we ended up having a ton of fun, particularly in regards to my obssession - NATIONAL PARKS! One of the best things we did is to spend a few days near Astoria, Oregon, exploring the Lewis and Clark NHS.  The site memoralizes Lewis and Clark's winter headquarters, after they had made it all the way across the country to the Pacific.  It's a great place to visit - and going in the winter made us extra authentic. 

All of which is a long introduction as to why I recently (well six months ago) read Undaunted Courage.  And I really enjoyed it, because it tells an incredibly interesting story.  You'd have to be brain dead not to be interested in the story of Lewis & Clark (and Sacajawea, and her baby, and the Newfoundland Dog, and everyone else) making that first journey across the country.  It's an amazing story, full stop.  And when they finally get to the Pacific Ocean and then you are standing where they are standing - well, that's the reason I like to bring topically appropriate books on my vacations, because it was awesome.

Which is not to say that this is a perfect book.  It's a biography of Lewis, and Ambrose is in luuuuuve with Lewis, and it's all Lewis Lewis Lewis, and I am sure Lewis was awesome and the best and ran the whole show, but (perhaps because I am contrarian) I started to want to know a LOT more about Clark.  I think that there could probably be an even better book written about their voyage that was a little more even handed (Ambrose really loves Lewis, is what I'm saying). But if you want to know about an amazing thing that happened in American history, you could do worse that read this book.  Especially if you are going to be in any of the places they visited.

*This is me on the Oregon beach, in what Jon calls our "Soviet Beach Vacation" photo

Image 1

And here we have Lewis & Clark, in the flesh


© Carrie Dunsmore 2017