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This Vast Land: A Young Man's Journal of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Synopses & Reviews
Ambrose's only work of fiction — a diary of an eighteen-year-old member of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Eighteen-year-old George Shannon is allowed to accompany Lewis and Clark on their expedition west on the condition that he write a diary. This riveting read is the imagined diary he kept. A boy named George Shannon really did accompany Lewis and Clark, and although this diary is fictionalized, it is a precise replica of the day-to-day perils, the grueling physical work, the danger, excitement, tedium, and exhilaration that characterized the Corps of Discovery's way out West.
The five-year epoch-making journey, which began on August 30, 1803, will be commemorated in bicentennial celebrations this year. There could be no more fitting testament to the Lewis and Clark expedition than this unsparing novel for young people by one of America's premier historians.
"The diary entries are occasionally salted with the rough language and sexual thoughts and actions that would be common in a group of young men, and the writing style will take a competent reader, as the sentences are often long and convoluted. A good choice for older teens who are interested in this fascinating expedition." School Library Journal
"This is very easy reading, with short entries, sparse language, and simple sentence structure, but some coarse and racist language and the occasional explicit sexual experience make the story more suitable for older YA readers." Booklist
"At their best, the entries reveal aspects of George's personality even as they offer vivid, telling snapshots of the epoch....While most of the writing is similarly incisive, some passages are repetitious and some, unfortunately, inept." Publishers Weekly
In a story muscled with truth and imagination, Stephen E. Ambrose (1936-2002) recounts the epoch-making 1803 expedition of Lewis and Clark through the words of a young man. Finding foes and friends among Natives, surviving sickness and hunger, choosing between a woman and the life he left behind, George Shannon grows up as the corps forges a way west.
Drawing on his encyclopedic knowledge of the subject, Ambrose creates the fictional diary of nineteen-year-old George Shannon, who was in fact the youngest member of Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery. He conjures the journey west with stunning clarity, calling on the bravery of Daniel Boone, the pragmatic courage of Sacajawea, the overarching, relentless vision of Meriwether Lewis.
This is a book for young readers as well as for those who are looking for new insights into the Northwest Passage. Ambrose's vivid characters, his page-turning account, and the map that charts the explorers' route manifest the spirit of one nation and her indelible destiny.
About the Author
Stephen E. Ambrose (1936-2002) was one of contemporary America's most renowned historians. His many best-selling books include Citizen Soldiers; Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West; D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II, as well as Nothing Like It in the World, The Good Fight: How World War II Was Won, and Band of Brothers, which became a television movie. Most recently To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian was published posthumously. Ambrose was the founder of the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans and during his lifetime won the Abraham Lincoln Literary Award, the Will Rogers Memorial Award, and the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal from the Department of Defense.
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