Book Review: Lewis & Clark: An American Journey (by Frederick Nolan) : WW

8/12/2001 • Lewis And Clark, Wild West Reviews

Lewis & Clark: An American Journey, by Daniel B. Thorp, MetroBooks (imprint of Friedman/Fairfax Publishers), New York, 1998, $22.98.

For those who like nice illustrations with their history, this 160-page book delivers the goods without costing an arm and a leg. About 190 illustrations, most of them in color, make for a visual treat that should please even those readers who are already familiar with the enduring tale of the Corps of Discovery’s groundbreaking journey west.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, as most every school kid knows (or should know), led the famous expedition from St. Louis to the Pacific, beginning in the spring of 1804. And even members of the U.S. Congress have heard that a young Indian woman named Sacagawea provided a big boost to the group along the way. Congress has passed a law authorizing the U.S. Mint to circulate a “Sacagawea” dollar coin, which in 2000 figures to give Susan B. Anthony a run for her money. Even so, the names of most of the other members of the Corps of Discovery as well as the details of the long journey remain mysteries to many Americans.

Anyone wanting a clear, chronological account of the expedition to learn many of those details–or just to refresh the old memory–will do well to read the text by Daniel Thorp, a Virginia Tech history professor who has bicycled most of the Lewis and Clark trail. Several interesting old maps are presented, along with some simple but helpful modern color maps of the Corps of Discovery route. Most of the book’s color, though, is provided by some striking photographs of the land the expedition passed through and some nice paintings by artists such as Mort Künstler and Bill Farnsworth.

Alexander Cook