Pinot & Prose Book Club selection for May, 2015

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen Ambrose.

Undaunted Courage cover

The 1996 biography of Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The book is based on journals and letters written by Lewis, William Clark, Thomas Jefferson and the members of the Corps of Discovery. While most of the book is dedicated to the expedition, several chapters are also devoted to Lewis’s early life as a Virginia planter and Jefferson’s personal secretary, and his later life as governor of the Louisiana Territory before his untimely death in 1809.

The book outlines the expedition in detail including the route, interactions with Native Americans, scientific discoveries, wildlife, and landscape. As a biography the book is focused entirely on Lewis, so Clark, Sacagawea and the others are addressed principally in their interactions with Lewis. The expedition, and Lewis’s life as a whole, is placed within the broader context of Jefferson’s presidency, the opening of the American west, and early Indian Policy. The text is supplemented by maps and illustrations, including some drawn by Lewis himself.

The book was a #1 New York Times Bestseller in 1996.


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