Undaunted Courage

Undaunted Courage

by Stephen E. Ambrose


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Reconstruction of the Lewis and Clark Expedition from Lewis' point of view told as a sweeping adventure story.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780780773998
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/28/1997
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 64,703
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Date of Birth:

January 10, 1936

Date of Death:

October 13, 2002

Place of Birth:

Whitewater, Wisconsin

Place of Death:

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi


B.A., University of Wisconsin; M.A., Louisiana State University, 1958; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1963

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Undaunted Courage 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 103 reviews.
Jason_A_Greer More than 1 year ago
Perhaps no other journey, save the landings on the moon, has fired the American imagination like the expedition of Lewis and Clark to the Pacific Ocean and back. It is the story of the opening of the American West, of an incredible tale of leadership and personal hardship, and it offers a first glimpse into an unknown native world that no longer exists. Undaunted Courage is Ambrose's attempt at placing the Lewis and Clark expedition within the context of the early years of the American republic, especially from the perspective of Captain Meriwether Lewis. Ambrose, who was a historian in New Orleans, had a great ability to focus on larger events, from the perspective of leaders, and especially leaders who had a hands-on experience with great events. His works in the later part of his career, like the famed Band of Brothers, focused on small military units, which faced unique circumstances, and exhibited great bravery through trying times. In a sense, the Lewis and Clark expedition was the first Band of Brothers: two officers and roughly thirty enlisted men, trekking over unknown territory, and out of touch with their command and the rest of civilization for over two years. This book is written partly as a biography of Captain Lewis, who was also the equivalent of today's White House Chief of Staff in the Jefferson administration. Ambrose presents Lewis as a trusted man, given to wandering, beset by personal demons and depression, driven to success, but often forgetful in critical moments of his task. Most of all, he wants the reader to understand that the expedition would have failed, as many other shorter ones did in this time period, were it not for the excellent junior officer leadership, and the real espirit de corps that the enlisted men developed; as their very survival depended on the type of teamwork they created. Ambrose loved this subject, probably as much as any other in his career. He spent a significant amount of personal time camping and traveling the route that Lewis & Clark took, for decades before this book came to print. His first hand knowledge of the difficult terrain traveled adds a sense of realism. This is more than a memoir of Lewis. It is a travel and nature description, particularly of the mountain and Pacific Northwest. The writing style reads aloud well, almost as if Ambrose would like the reader to take the book and read portions at a campfire, as he often read portions of the Lewis & Clark journal over campfires to his students. There are good maps, which make following the journey easier, but there are not many pictures. This is more than just a retelling of the Lewis & Clark journals, as it relies extensively on secondary sources, and his own personal historical judgments of the group's decision making processes. There are times when the writing could be tighter, when it would be better if Ambrose would not linger so long over a particular time period, as the group encountered an Indian tribe, or regarding the preparation for the expedition. Perhaps because Ambrose really loved this subject so much, that he does tend to gush over his subject, but that is a minor quibble. What the reader should find is a great tale of adventure, and a leadership study of two officers who complimented each other as well as any could.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Stephen Ambrose writes more than a recounting of Lewis' and Clark's expedition of the Louisiana purchase. It is a full biography of Meriwether Lewis. It gives details of his youth and growing up and how Jefferson took him under his wing. It provides information on how Lewis was selected to lead this expedition and the intense training he received in preparing for this long trek. I did not know that Lewis completed what could almost be considered a Master's training in the sciences in several months to prepare him. I was unaware of all the discoveries that he made and I was also unaware that the expedition reached the Pacific Ocean. There are times when Ambrose does not have information from Lewis or very little from Clark that he does take license and extrapolate his own thoughts, which while reasonable are not necessarily factually based, but this is done very little and does not take away from the quality of the work presented. It is one that I highly enjoyed and recommend.
db-reader More than 1 year ago
I bought this book to learn more about the Lewis and Clark Trails as I live in Yankton, SD on the Missouri River. Great information on the various President's and the development of the various territories/states and how the land was purchased. I may have learned all of this in grade school but it didn't stick. Reading this book has made it stick. I found it informative, insightful, factual and just good reading. This is a book to read again a few years down the road.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a good, reader friendly account of one of the most interesting times in American history.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a high school junior and we're learning about the early colonial period now in American History. I thought I would read Undaunted Courage to give me a leg up and give me more detailed information about that time. It has done that and so much more. Ambrose makes it so fascinating as he recounts the thoughts and trials that Lewis and Clark must undergo. The descriptions of what they see, experience, discover, and observe is incredible. It has given me a new appreciation for what these men had to do to reach the Pacific. I strongly recommend this book. Don't let the subject matter stop you; it IS actually enjoyable and doesn't read out like a stuffy history lesson.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just truely amazing. Even if you don't like histroy you will enjoy this book. Makes you feel like an expert.
AJ_Wheat More than 1 year ago
It's so interesting that Thomas Jefferson, the champion of small government would be able to see the future so clearly in purchasing Louisiana from Napoleon and the French. But he saw it clearly and acted in a very federal government leveraging way to gain the land west of the Mississippi. It was also so interesting that this renaissance-man president would take such a personal interested and assume responsibility for not only selecting Meriwether Lewis, but also in conducting so much of his training. Can you imagine any modern president not delegating such a task? This is a book that paints the picture, not only of western scenes, Indians and amazing animals not seen before by most Americans; it paints lucid portraits of the main players in the Lewis and Clarke expedition. Stephen Ambrose tells the tale in such a way as to build suspense. And yet it's not just an action book - but one that ponders the meaning of people's lives and the events. All the while, we feel the sense of their awareness that they were making history and literally opening up the future of our nation. I prefer the unabridged version so as not to miss any details. I highly recommend this book. History does not always come packaged in such high adventure!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most intricate books I have ever read about a historical accomplishment. I am writing this review, as I am only half way through the book, because it is so riveting. This book brilliantly sets up the trek across the country, by giving us a deep, but brief accountance of Lewis's life, education, and relations to the figures who most effected his persona. Then continues on, while choosing important and fascinating facts from Lewis's journals, to re-create the journey across our great nation, with amazing granduer. The story slips in and out of the journal's passages with mesmerating prose, grabbing your attention and placing you deep into the novel. Eventually, with enough time to capture just a couple chapters, you find yourself on an amazing journey. Sometimes, I feel as though I am in a perouge with the men, or walking the plains with Mr. Lewis. If you are a journeyman yourself, or have ever dreamed of discovering something no one else has ever laid eyes on, this novel will deliver that adventure for you. It almost fulfills my dream of being able to live in a time, when the excitement of discovering something so natural and real is still possible. I, as an avid historian and adventurer, must be thankful for the opportunity to be taken on such a memorable and unfathomable journey across the greatest expanse of landscape our environment has ever known. It is filled with discovery, after discovery. What man on Earth....can deny the evangelical feeling of discovering something new? This book is a bargain, no matter the price.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ambrose, I believe to be one of the greatest literary historians of his decade. He chronicles the Lewis and Clark expedition from conception to treking their way to the Rocky Mountains. Based primarily on the Lewis and Clark journals that were scattered and often incomplete with gaps in days, and some of the journals were lost. Ambrose fills in the missing peices of the historical surveying trip. Two thumbs up to Ambrose on his views concerning Thomas Jefferson and his administration. To me this could be standard reading material for all students of history and govenment. Also, Ambrose is experienced enough in his own writing ability that it is a pleasure for the reader to endure. I found myself not being able to put it down. Thanks again Stephen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
HaroldTitus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What an excellent book! If you have any interest in how our country expanded, this is a must read. Wonderful character studies of Lewis and Clark. Exciting detail of exploration. This is the book that caused me to discover the excellent historical fiction writer, A. B. Guthrie, Jr., and his outstanding novels, "The Big Sky" and "The Way West."
Gary10 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Histgory of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Tremendous detail about events that are almost stranger than fiction. Long and involved but worth the ride. Amazing that the history would have been impossible without a huge amount of goodwill from Native Americans along the trip.
santhony on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This piece of work is one which should be studied in every high school in the country. The bravery displayed and the adversity faced by the members of this expedition are not to be believed. It is easy in this day and time to downplay the significance of this journey, however by reading this account, a full appreciation of the hazards faced by the expedition can perhaps be attained. No maps, hostile Indian tribes, constant hunger, wild animals and constant insect infestation (clouds of mosquitoes drove some mad), bitter weather, etc. The picture painted by Ambrose is vivid. A fascinating story told by a less talented writer and historian would not have been nearly as effective.
morryb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stephen Ambrose writes more than a recounting of Lewis and Clark's expedition of the Louisiana Purchase. It is a bull biography of Meriwether Lewis. IThe book gives details of Lewis's youth and growing up and how Jefferson took Lewis under his wing. This history privides informaton regarding Lewis selctionas a leader to this expediton and the intense trining he underwnet in order to prepare for this long trek. It gives reference to the fact that Lewis received what would have been considered a Masters degree and completed it in several months. This volume references many of the discoveries Lewis made (or at least passed on to the western world). It also goes into detail about the long and difficult journey to the Pacific Coast. There are times when Ambrose does not have information form Lewis or very little from Clark, that he does take license and extrapolate his own thoughts. However, this does not really take away form the book and it is one I highly enjoyed and would recommend.
foof2you on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Steven Ambrose makes the Lewis and Clark expedition come alive with a wonderful history. Using Meriwether Lewis journals the reader gets to explore the new territory together. An interesting and enjoyable read.
bfertig on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It took me a few attempts to get through the initial biography of Lewis growing up to get to the good stuff (the exciting tale of the expedition) in the middle. But this book tried to both be a biography of Lewis in addition to following the expedition, which IMHO, wasn't really necessary. Stephen Ambrose thoroughly examined the relationship between Lewis and Jefferson, and their friendship. The wrap-up analysis at the end was interesting, but again, was a bit of a slog to go through the depressing end of his life. Ambrose clearly has an appropriate sense of appreciation for their travails and of Lewis' original writings. He often gives us snippets from Lewis' journals, which left me wanting to hear more from that and less praise of them. But at other times Ambrose must have thought that the action wasn't exciting enough because he often indulged in 'What If...?' scenarios that I thought could have been cut.Some of the more interesting portions of the text were about the interplay between the expedition and the Sioux, Mandans, the Osage, Blackfoot, and other tribes, as well as the inter-tribal politics and war, most of which went right over Lewis' head. To me, its amazing they were able to communicate at all, given the number of people that had to be involved for translation of a single conversation! Talk about a game of Telephone!I listened to the unabridged audiobook, but it took me a while to get used to narration by Barrett Whitener. To be honest, at first I really didn't like the way he read - the ends of his sentences were somewhat breathy and clipped - and I felt pauses between sentences were oddly timed. I found that turning my iPod to the Faster setting made it easier. With enough time (the unabridged is nearly 22 hrs!) I got used to it and could turn it back to the Normal setting.
LiteraryLinda on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿Echo Burning¿ is a very good mystery featuring Jack Reacher. It takes place in southern Texas in an area that does not get much rain. Reacher is walking along a two-lane highway when Carmen Greer picks him up and tells him a story. She talks about her home town, her family, her husband and the ranch where they live. There is trouble brewing and Carmen asks Reacher to help her. He won¿t do what she asks but will go with her to see what¿s going on. This visit could cost them their lives. There are twists and turns, violence, and wonderful descriptions of the area. Lovers of good mysteries will love this book.
bkinetic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Many people learn of the Lewis and Clark expedition in school as a part of history, but the interesting parts of the journey are in the details including various encounters with native Americans along the way. Ambrose supplies these details, making it possible for the reading to get a safe taste of what it would have been like to be along for the trip.
wamser on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mediocre writing, but a great tale nontheless.
hollysing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The quintessential account of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition. No frills - not needed.
pdill8 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Boy, I usually have trouble finishing even the highest quality non-fiction, but this one was extremely readable and very interesting. It was a page turner for me.
pioniere on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good history of the famous journey across the continent. It was a different time and different place, and an era that is gone forever now.
beaurichly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved reading about the risk-taking of Lewis. Having grown up in Oregon, these early views by westerners of places I have spent endless time in was fun. Tidbits I remember -- fatty dog meat was a delicacy because the venison was so lean.
creighley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Highlights the intense sacrifice of the men who first pioneered west to open the frontier. Remarkable what these men and Sacagawea endured!
bluesviola on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
very thorough detailed account of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Plenty of background, but not so much as to be overwhelming. Haven't finished yet.