Finding the West: Explorations with Lewis and Clark

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Overview

One of the foremost historians of Lewis and Clark, Ronda grounds Finding the West in the insights and reflections he has gleaned from some twenty years of research and writing about this pivotal era. But above all else, Ronda's book is centered on stories and storytellers. As he writes: "This is a book about many storytellers. Their words are French-Canadian, Shoshone, New Hampshire English, Hidatsa, and Chinookan." Ronda documents not only the stories that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark offered about their "road across the continent," but also the large and important stories by and about the native peoples whose trails they followed and whose lands they described in their journals and reports and on their maps.

The beginning of the nineteenth century represents a time when America passed into a headlong rush for empire and when "the West" loomed large as a dream for some and a nightmare for others, an era that irrevocably shaped the new American nation in the two hundred years that followed. Whoever the storyteller in the aftermath of that encounter—native or newcomer—the stories all soon revolved around a common theme: the coming of the winds of change.

Ronda's masterful interpretation of the young Republic's fascination with the West is written with grace, narrative sweep, and a conviction that history should, above all else, engage and inform us.

"This is a really outstanding, important work."—Professor John L. Allen, University of Wyoming

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
Long considered one of the foremost experts on Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery, James Ronda presents the seven chapters of this little book as if they were a series of reflective essays based on years of scholarship and study. For this reason, Finding the West is not necessarily a good introduction to the drama of Lewis and Clark, but rather an excellent capstone work. Ronda reflects on the role of rivers in the thinking of Jefferson, on the expectations that Lewis and Clark carried with them on their journey, on the maps they had and those they made, and, perhaps most importantly, on the imperial designs of the era's explorers and of those who sent them. Ronda's prose is liquid, his scholarship broad and his storytelling ability absorbing. KLIATT Codes: SA*—Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Univ. of New Mexico Press, 138p. maps. bibliog. index., Ages 15 to adult.
—Patricia Moore
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Product Details

Meet the Author

James P. Ronda is H. G. Barnard Professor of Western American History at the University of Tulsa and past president of the Western History Association. Ronda is the author of many books, including Lewis and Clark Among the Indians, Beyond Lewis and Clark, and Jefferson's West.

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