The most recommended Meriwether Lewis books

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8 authors created a book list connected to Meriwether Lewis, and here are their favorite Meriwether Lewis books.
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Book cover of The Character of Meriwether Lewis: Explorer in the Wilderness

Larry E. Morris Author Of The Fate of the Corps: What Became of the Lewis and Clark Explorers After the Expedition

From my list on Lewis and Clark, their lives, and the impact of their expedition.

Who am I?

I was browsing a bookstore around 1996 when I spotted a book about Lewis and Clark. I took a look, saw a list of the members of the expedition, and realized I hardly knew anything about those individuals. I wondered who they were and what happened to them during and after their trek across the country. I started reading books and articles and making trips to conventions or archives in places like St. Louis and Philadelphia. It has been a great twenty-five years, and my passion for Lewis and Clark has never ebbed. I hope you enjoy the books discussed here as much as I have.

Larry's book list on Lewis and Clark, their lives, and the impact of their expedition

Larry E. Morris Why did Larry love 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.

By Clay S. Jenkinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Character of Meriwether Lewis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meriwether Lewis commanded the most important exploration mission in the early history of the United States. Clay S. Jenkinson takes a fresh look at Lewis, not to offer a paper cutout hero but to describe and explain a hyperserious young man of great complexity who found the wilderness of Upper Louisiana as exacting as it was exhilarating.

Jenkinson sees Lewis as a troubled soul before he left St. Charles, Missouri, in May 1804. His experiences in lands "upon which the foot of civilized man had never trodden" further fractured his sense of himself. His hiring William Clark as his "partner…


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

Laci Barry Post Author Of Songbird

From Laci's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Group fitness instructor Mom of two Travel consultant Hiker

Laci's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Laci Barry Post Why did Laci love this book?

I love books, both fictional and non-fictional, that help me relive history. Stephen E. Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage did just that.

I got to know the men behind the famous names of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark! I crossed the mountains and rode on the keelboat with them to explore new lands. I saw the buffalo and bears with them. I encountered the Native Americans with them.

I did not know before reading this book how many different Native American groups there were in America! It was so interesting to learn about their different beliefs and ways of living.

I also got to know more about Thomas Jefferson and Sacagawea. Thomas Jefferson had a great scientific mind that provided our country with a wealth of knowledge. Sacagawea was a courageous Shoshone woman who was just a teenager and young mom when she helped Lewis and Clark make their way…

By Stephen E. Ambrose,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Undaunted Courage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A chronicle of the two-and-a-half year journey of Lewis and Clark covers their incredible hardships and the contributions of Sacajawea.


Book cover of The Journals of Lewis and Clark

Mark Derr Author Of Dog's Best Friend: Annals of the Dog-Human Relationship

From my list on travels with dogs.

Who am I?

Mark Derr is an independent scholar and author of three books on dogs, a biography of Davy Crockett, and a social and environmental history of Florida, as well as a co-author with photographer Cameron Davidson of Over Florida. His work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Scientific American, Audubon, Smithsonian, Natural History, The New York Times, and other publications. His poems have appeared in Kansas Quarterly, Partisan Review, and other journals. He has had a lifelong relationship with dogs.  Having known and mourned a number of outstanding dogs, he has told friends, "They are always with me in my thoughts, and I miss them very much." He and his wife currently share their domicile with a Jack Russell Terrier and a Miami Beach street cat.

Mark's book list on travels with dogs

Mark Derr Why did Mark love 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 to understand the history of the American West. 

By John Bakeless,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Journals of Lewis and Clark as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An in-depth look at Lewis and Clark's historic expedition through the explorers' journals-America's "first report on the West" (Bernard DeVoto).
In 1803, the great expanse of the Louisiana Purchase was an empty canvas. Keenly aware that the course of the nation's destiny lay westward-and that a "Voyage of Discovery" would be necessary to determine the nature of the frontier-President Thomas Jefferson commissioned Meriwether Lewis to lead an expedition from the Missouri River to the northern Pacific coast and back. From 1804 to 1806, accompanied by co-captain William Clark, the Shoshone guide Sacajawea, and thirty-two men, Lewis mapped rivers, traced the…


Book cover of The Secret History of Twin Peaks

A.M. Kherbash Author Of Lesath

From my list on creepy titles you may have overlooked.

Who am I?

I grew up reading dark fiction, and the only two books I kept from that period were The Wicked Heart and Whisper of Death, both by Christopher Pike. Though both were categorized as horror, the first is a crime mystery that partly follows the murderer, while the latter feels like an episode out of The Twilight Zone. I never cared for pure horror, and a book doesn’t have to scare me for me to find them enjoyable. What I often wanted was a tangible sense of dread paired with insight into the human psyche, which I believe makes for a more potent reading experience. 

A.M.'s book list on creepy titles you may have overlooked

A.M. Kherbash Why did A.M. love 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. 

By Mark Frost,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret History of Twin Peaks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Secret History of Twin Peaks enlarges the world of the original series, placing the unexplained phenomena that unfolded there into a vastly layered, wide-ranging history, beginning with the journals of Lewis and Clark and ending with the shocking events that closed the finale. The perfect way to get in the mood for the upcoming Showtime series.


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

Larry E. Morris Author Of The Fate of the Corps: What Became of the Lewis and Clark Explorers After the Expedition

From my list on Lewis and Clark, their lives, and the impact of their expedition.

Who am I?

I was browsing a bookstore around 1996 when I spotted a book about Lewis and Clark. I took a look, saw a list of the members of the expedition, and realized I hardly knew anything about those individuals. I wondered who they were and what happened to them during and after their trek across the country. I started reading books and articles and making trips to conventions or archives in places like St. Louis and Philadelphia. It has been a great twenty-five years, and my passion for Lewis and Clark has never ebbed. I hope you enjoy the books discussed here as much as I have.

Larry's book list on Lewis and Clark, their lives, and the impact of their expedition

Larry E. Morris Why did Larry love 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 his wife, his eventual freedom, and his understandable failure in the freight business—in a world where freed slaves were viewed with considerable suspicion. The sad heritage of slavery thus left its mark on the Expedition, just as it did the entire history of the United States.

By Robert B. Betts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Search of York as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The sole African American member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, William Clark's enigmatic body servant York has inspired numerous myths about his character and exploits. He was supposed to be a man of superb physique and stamina, and some believed that he clowned and womanized his way across the continent and made no significant contributions to the outcome of the Expedition. More often than not, reputable historians have assumed that these myths surrounding him were reliable portrayals of the first black man to reach the Pacific Ocean.

First published in 1985, Robert B. Betts' unique account of this long-obscured…