Essential Lewis and Clark

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The journals of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark remain the single most important document in the history of American exploration. Through these tales of adventure, edited and annotated by American Book Award nominee Landon Jones, we meet Indian peoples and see the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and western rivers the way Lewis and Clark first observed them — majestic, pristine, uncharted, and awe-inspiring.

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The journals of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark remain the single most important document in the history of American exploration. Through these tales of adventure, edited and annotated by American Book Award nominee Landon Jones, we meet Indian peoples and see the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and western rivers the way Lewis and Clark first observed them — majestic, pristine, uncharted, and awe-inspiring.

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Editorial Reviews

Stephen E. Ambrose
“Landon Jones has done an excellent job.”
Brad Knickerbocker
The Essential Lewis and Clark, by Landon Jones, takes the 900,000 words written their adventure (both were detailed and habitual notetakers) and turns then into a gripping page turner.
The Christian Science Monitor
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060011598
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 523,442
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Landon Y. Jones is the author of Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation. He has reported, written, and edited at Life, Time, Money, and People magazines. He is a member of the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Council.

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Read an Excerpt

Volume One

From River Dubois to
Two-Thousand-Mile Creek

May 13, 1804-May 5, 1805

Meriwether Lewis and a dozen men left Pittsburgh on August -i, 1803, in a fifty five foot masted keelboat and floated down the Ohio River. They stopped at Clarksville, Indiana Territory, to pick up William Clark and more men. After spending the winter of 1803-04 camped at River Dubois, across the Mississippi from St. Louis and the mouth of the Missouri, the captains prepared in the spring to depart for the unexplored lands up the Missouri River. On May 14, Clark left Camp Dubois with perhaps forty-two men in the keelboat and two pirogues (dugout canoes) and proceeded up the river to St. Charles to rendezvous with Lewis, who had been making departure arrangements in St. Louis. The Voyage of Discovery was under way.

[Clark] May 14, 1804

I determined to go as far as St. Charles, a French village 7 leags. up the Missourie, and wait at that place untill Capt. Lewis could finish the business in which he was obliged to attend to at St. Louis and join me by land from that place . . . I set out at 4 oClock P.M, in the presence of many of the neighbouring inhabitants, and proceeded on under a jentle brease up the Missourie.
[Lewis] May 20, 1804

At 10 Ock. a.m. agreably to an appointment of the preceeding day, I was joined by Capt. Stoddard, Lieuts. Milford & Worrell together with Messrs. A. Chouteau, C. Gratiot, and many other rispectable inhabitants of St. Louis, who had engaged to accompany me to the Vilage of St. Charles. Accordingly, after bidding an affectionate adieuto my hostis, that excellent woman the spouse of Mr. Peter Chouteau, and some of my fair friends of St. Louis, we set forward to that vilage in order to join my friend companion and fellow labourer Capt. William Clark, who had previously arrived at that place with the party destined for the discovery of the interior of the continent of North America.
(Clark) May 21, 1804

All the forepart of the day arranging our party and procureing the different articles necessary for them at this place. Dined with Mr. Ducett and set out at half passed three oClock under three cheers from the gentlemen on the bank and proceeded on ....

We camped in a bend at the Mo. of a small creek. Soon after we came too the Indians arrived with 4 deer as a present, for which we gave them two qt. of whiskey.

(Clark) May 23, 1804

We passed a large cave called by the French the Tavern--about 120 feet wide 40 feet deep & 20 feet high. Many different immages are painted on the rock. At this place the Ind. & French pay omage. Many names are wrote on the rock. Stoped about one mile above for Capt. Lewis who had assended the clifts which is at the said cave 300 fee[t] high, hanging over the waters .... Capt. Lewis near falling from the pinecles of rocks 300 feet. He caught at 20 foot. Saved himself by the assistance of his knife.
(Clark) May 24, 1804

Passed a verry bad part of the river called the deavels race ground. This is where the current sets against some projecting rocks for half a mile on the labd. side.... The swiftness of current wheeled the boat, broke our toe rope, and was nearly over setting the boat. All hands jumped out on the upper side and bore on that side untill the sand washed from under the boat and wheeled on the next bank. By the time she wheeled a 3rd time got a rope fast to her stern and by the means of swimmers was carted to shore.
(Clark) June 16, 1804

The mosquitoes and ticks are noumerous & bad.
[Orderly Book Clark] Camp
Mouth of the Kansies
June 29, 1804

Ordered--A court martiall will set this day at 1 1 oClock, to consist of five members, for the trial of John Collins and Hugh Hall, confined on charges exhibited against them by Sergeant Floyd, agreeable to the articles of war.


Sergt. Nat. Pryor presd.
2 John Colter
3 John Newmon
4 Pat. Gass
1 J. B. Thompson
John Potts to act as judge advocate.

The court convened agreeable to order and proceeded to the trial of the prisoners vii John Collins charged "with getting drunk on his post this morning out of whiskey put under his charge as a sentinal, and for suffering Hugh Hall to draw whiskey out of the said barrel intended for the party."

To this charge the prisoner plead not guilty.

The court after mature deliberation on the evidence adduced &c. are of oppinion that the prisoner is guilty of the charge exibited against him, and do therefore sentence him to receive one hundred lashes on his bear back.

Hugh Hall was brought before the court charged with takeing whiskey out of a keg this morning which whiskey was stored on the bank (and under the charge of the guard) contrary to all order, rule, or regulation.

To this charge the prisoner "pleaded guilty."

The court find the prisoner guilty and sentence him to receive fifty Lashes on his bear back.

[Clark] June 30, 1804

A verry large wolf came to the bank and looked at us this morning.
[Orderly Book; Lewis]
Camp New Island
July 12, 1804
A court martial consisting of the two commanding officers will convene this day at 1 oCk. p.m. for the trial of such prisoners as may be brought before them; one of the court will act as judge advocate.

The commanding officers, Capt. M. Lewis & W. Clark constituted themselves a court martial for the trial of such prisoners as are guilty of capatal crimes, and under the rules and articles of war punishable by DEATH... The Essential Lewis and Clark. Copyright © by Landon Jones. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2002

    On 'The Essential Lewis & Clark'

    A great book to read. The adventure of Lewis & Clark is amazing because of the many difficulties of the expedition and the many descriptions of a land. An adventure that deserves more attention than those created by human imagination. Its significance in the study of America is crucial because it provides the reader with a description of a land that was by no means 'empty' or always acceptable for settlement. An amazing story and a great book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2010

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