The best Meriwether Lewis books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about Meriwether Lewis and why they recommend each book.

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Book cover of In Search of York: The Slave Who Went to the Pacific with Lewis and Clark

In Search of York: The Slave Who Went to the Pacific with Lewis and Clark

By Robert B. Betts,

Why this book?

While the early death of Meriwether Lewis is one of the tragic events related to the Expedition, no story is more poignant than that of York, William Clark’s slave, who was one of the twenty-eight men who made the complete journey from St. Louis to the Pacific coast and back. In many ways, this touching book tells the story of slavery itself, covering such topics as York’s fine service on the Expedition, his youth as a slave to the Clark family, his marriage, his falling out with Clark, his demotion from body servant to hired-out slave, his forced separation from…

From the list:

The best books on Lewis and Clark, their lives, and the impact of their expedition

Book cover of The Journals of Lewis and Clark

The Journals of Lewis and Clark

By John Bakeless,

Why this book?

Arguably, people and dogs—initially in the guise of wolves—have been wandering the world together since they first met on the trail of the big game they were both hunting. Dogs were generally more amicable, low-maintenance traveling companions, serving as camp guards, hunters, bed warmers, social secretaries, and occasional sneak thieves.  

A prototype for traveling dog in American letters is Seaman, a young Newfoundland Meriwether Lewis obtained to accompany the corps of discovery on its westward explorations. Seaman and his exploits dot the pages of The Journals of Lewis and Clark (1814), a great resource and compelling read for anyone hoping…

From the list:

The best American books on travels with dogs

Book cover of Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West

By Stephen E. Ambrose,

Why this book?

Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage is the only non-fiction book on my list, but it is as readable as a novel, and it is foundational for anyone interested in the history of the American West. In 2014, HBO announced plans to produce a six-part mini-series with Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, and Edward Norton as executive producers. I was really looking forward to that; however, filming was halted in 2016.  

Undaunted Courage is a biography of President Thomas Jefferson’s personal secretary, Meriwether Lewis. In 1803, Jefferson asks Lewis to lead an expedition up the Missouri River to the Rockies, through the mountains, down…

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Book cover of The Character of Meriwether Lewis: Explorer in the Wilderness

The Character of Meriwether Lewis: Explorer in the Wilderness

By Clay S. Jenkinson,

Why this book?

This thoughtful, compelling, 442-page essay by humanities scholar Clay S. Jenkinson is simply my favorite Lewis and Clark book. Clay begins with a quote from Hamlet, and in the next few pages mention everyone from Lewis—“an eccentric, high strung, and sometimes-troubled man” but also “a man of extraordinary intelligence and sensitivity” to John Donne, Buzz Aldrin, and Neil Armstrong, to Lennon and McCartney. This is a highly personal, highly readable, free-ranging volume that offers new and fascinating insights into both Lewis and Clark and their westward trek. I highly recommend it.

From the list:

The best books on Lewis and Clark, their lives, and the impact of their expedition

Book cover of The Secret History of Twin Peaks

The Secret History of Twin Peaks

By Mark Frost,

Why this book?

What a sensible-sounding title to a series that was anything but. David Lynch is famously known for avoiding explaining his work lest he kills the mystery, but not only did Frost deftly provide an explanation while keeping the mystery alive, he aggrandized the lore behind it into mythology. 

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