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Brian Hall’s compulsively readable novel vividly re-creates Lewis and Clark’s extraordinary journey into the unknown western frontier. Focusing on the emblematic moments of the participants’ lives, the story unfolds through the perspectives of four competing voices—from the troubled and mercurial figure of Meriwether Lewis, the expedition leader who found that it was impossible to enter paradise without having it crumble around him, to Sacagawea, the Shoshone girl-captive and interpreter for the expedition, ...
Brian Hall’s compulsively readable novel vividly re-creates Lewis and Clark’s extraordinary journey into the unknown western frontier. Focusing on the emblematic moments of the participants’ lives, the story unfolds through the perspectives of four competing voices—from the troubled and mercurial figure of Meriwether Lewis, the expedition leader who found that it was impossible to enter paradise without having it crumble around him, to Sacagawea, the Shoshone girl-captive and interpreter for the expedition, whose short life mirrored the disruptive times in which she lived. Bringing the day-to-day life of the expedition alive as no work of history ever could, Hall’s magnificent novel fills in the gaps and provides a new perspective on the most famous journey in American history.
“Hall, a spellbinding prose stylist, writes with the kind of ethereal poetic sweep found in the historical novels of Michael Ondaatje and Wallace Stegner.” —Los Angeles Times
“Fascinating, multifaceted . . . Hall’s magnum opus of a historical novel makes hugely enterprising use of firsthand accounts of the pioneering journey.” —The New York Times
Hall, a spellbinding prose-stylist, writes with the kind of ethereal poetic sweep found in the historical novels of Michael Ondaatje and Wallace Stegner. With consummate skill he weaves the true 1804-06 journey with a deep psychological probe of his enigmatic characters' mind-sets. To his credit, he stays as close to the historical circumstances surrounding the expedition as can be hoped for in fiction.—The Los Angeles Times
More insidious motives emerge in Seduced by the West, Laurie Winn Carlson's examination of the political plotting that surrounded the expedition. Carlson speculates that Thomas Jefferson may have intended to provoke war with Spain or establish a separate, Republican nation in the West. Jefferson, perhaps unknowingly, colluded with spies and traitors, and he may have coldly planned to sacrifice his former secretary: "Perhaps Jefferson did not even wantLewis to arrive on the Pacific coast. What he may have wanted . . . was a martyr."
Whether Lewis and Clark ever arrived didn't really matter, argues Thomas P. Slaughter in Exploring Lewis and Clark: Reflections on Men and Wilderness, noting that the Scottish explorer Alexander Mackenzie had made the overland journey ten years earlier and that traders had already begun to penetrate the territory. Slaughter writes, "It is really quite marvelous that Lewis and Clark were able to sustain the fantasy of controlled, objective 'discovery' so long and in the face of so much evidence to the contrary."(Andrea Thompson)
Posted April 5, 2006
Don't waste your time reading this garbage. The reviewers who like this book would probably agree that 'Ulysses' is the best novel ever written and that the Emperor's 'new clothes' look GREAT. The author tries to be artistic by writing the Sacajawea and Charboneau narratives in horrendously butchered English that is impossible to read and comprehend. Would non-English speakers tell their stories in this manner? I don't think so. They would tell it in their own words and then someone who can speak English would translate for them.
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Posted August 19, 2004
This novel is probably the best thing to come out of the subject of the Lewis and Clark expedition since Ambrose's Undaunted Courage, or Jenkinson's The Character of Meriwether Lewis, mostly for its sheer daring. All other authors shy away from or skip around delving in to the minds of the people involved, but Brian Hall has made a book about their inner-workings. Yes, a lot of it is speculation, but in a universe where every Lewis and Clark book is regurgitated fact, we need speculation, we need to not rule out things that we might otherwise miss by only accepting what¿s known for certain. I think the most interesting point of speculation that is mulled over in this book is Lewis¿ sexual orientation; no other author, to my knowledge, has really pinned that subject and drawn some conclusions, right or wrong, like Hall. Yes, in parts, this book is hard to follow, but if you keep pushing ahead it pieces itself together beautifully. Yes, there's foul language, but I don't believe it's, as some have suggested, an insult to Native Americans; he's using such language for effect, to show language, thoughts, uninhibited by what is 'appropriate.¿ If one can get past these qualms, one of the finest novels is waiting for them. At points, it is laugh out loud funny for it¿s trueness to life and to the characters (¿Strange man. That -good God- he always said, throwing his shoulders up, pressing his arms against his sides; like he'd been thrown into icy water¿¿ is written of Lewis at one point), and at times it manages to drag you down to the depths of misery, but always, always, it is well told, well written, and true to the spirit of America¿s favourite heroes.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 5, 2004
While I really liked the story of the Lewis & Clark being told from the different perspective of various members of the party, I think Mr. Hall has speculated a bit too much. At many times the writing was hard to follow.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 17, 2004
I was so excited to start this book. Very early into it, though, I realized it was going to be a struggle to finish it. First, was the distracting use of lower case letters for all Native Americans names, and a lack of punctuation and grammatical structure. I figured that was pretty minor, and might even be an accurate reflection of the native language. So I kept going. Even worse, was the authors heavy reliance on foul and obscene language and references. I work at a community college, and I thought nothing could be more disgusting than the idle chatter of the young men as they passed between buildings. This author has topped them. The boys normally stop at using f**k every other word, whereas the author takes an 8th grade delight in using c**t as often as f**k. To make this all worse, as if he could, he only does this in the Native American chapters. Are these aboriginal words? I don't think so, so why are they only in these parts of the book? I can only imagine he has some hatred for the Native American, with this use of such obscenity in those chapters only. I could understand if he had to make some nasty references in the Lewis parts, as part of that time and society. But he only does this in the Native American parts. I just don't get it. I will not be finishing this book. I think I will take it to the landfill. There is no more fitting end for it...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 28, 2003
Posted October 25, 2008
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