Just like the great Lewis and Clark expedition, this book gets off to a slow start, but don’t give up on it. It takes a while to lay the groundwork for this great true adventure in American history. And, being essentially a biography of Meriwether Lewis, it ends on the sad note of Lewis’s suicide, leaving the reader melancholy at the sad ending of perhaps our greatest explorer. But what lies in between the start and the finish is a tremendous work of one of the great true adventure stories that has ever occurred. The first one hundred pages are somewhat dry and tedious, but the reader finds a new-found respect for the attention to detail that went into the planning and preparation for this expedition. American schools teach very little of this great event and Ambrose superbly picks up where our history classes leave off.
The reader learns that Lewis was, in effect, a jack of all trades when it comes to being an explorer. In addition to his already polished skills as an outdoorsman, Lewis readied himself by learning medical techniques, how to properly record animals, birds and fish, as well as flora and fauna, mapping, astronomy, mineralogy, and virtually every other necessary knowledge or skill that would be helpful in making the expedition a success.
I don’t want to give away too much of the book, so suffice it to say, once the expedition begins, Ambrose puts the reader right there with the Corps of Discovery at every turn. The descriptions of plants, animals, Indians and mishaps along the way are near perfection. If you have ever traveled the route, you will see in your mind, exactly what Lewis and Clark must have been seeing for the very first time.
Ambrose has put together a true classic for every lover of American history. True life adventure is told here, only as can be told by one of Ambrose’ reputation for interjecting suspense into true life events. You will not want to put down this book.