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Undaunted Courage

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  26,415 ratings  ·  1,441 reviews
From Stephen Ambrose comes a book on the most momentous expedition in American history & one of the great adventure stories of all time. In 1803 Pres. Th Jefferson selected his personal secretary, Cpt. Meriwether Lewis, to lead a voyage up the Missouri R. to the Rockies, over the mountains, down the Columbia R. to the Pacific Ocean & back. Lewis was a perfect choic ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1996)
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I dream of riding the river with them into the wild. In my historical fantasy, I travel with Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery on the 1804-06 mission to find the all-water route from St. Louis through the Northwest United States to the Pacific Ocean. These soldiers carried the best rifles of the day but devoted themselves to peaceable exploration and science.

They knew only of the world east of the Mississippi River, and they entered what (to them) was “the heart of darkness,” for which
Feb 05, 2008 Graham rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: learnin-books
Lewis and Clark... the actual story.

This is the ultimate adventure. A bunch of dudes, in totally uncharted territory, trying to to make it there and back alive.

What I loved:

-it shows Indians both good and bad. Some Indians were incredibly gracious to the party. Others complete manipulative jerks. All of them wanted guns, all of them wanted tobacco, and all of them really really wanted whiskey. And they gave away their women for anyone to boink. I had too romantic a view of indians before this b
The oddest little historical fact that has stayed with me from reading this book is the squirrel migration. At the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition, there were apparently so many squirrels in this country, that the squirrels migrated seasonally like birds. Lewis and Clark witnessed them in large numbers swimming south across the river on which they were traveling. It was such a surprising and delightful little piece of information I had never known about before. It gives the reader a windo ...more
First I want to thank Michael for suggesting I read this book. I really did like it. A definite four star read. Who doesn't know about the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803-1806, and of Sacajawea?! Years ago I had read Sacajawea, which I loved! Yeah, it is a door-stopper, but you don't want it to ever end. The two books did tell the same story about the expedition, but they focus on different people. Anna Lee Waldo’s book is historical fiction. It focuses primarily on Sacajawea and the expediti ...more
Bob Mayer
Perhaps I'm tainted by revelations about the author's techniques that were revealed late in his life. But also, understanding what really happened on this journey, makes me think that without the Native Americans, Lewis & Clark would have never made it over the mountains, never mind making it back.

They were incredibly lucky. And the author focuses primarily on Lewis.

It's a good over-view of the journey, pulling together various sources, but it seemed whenever Ambrose had to really get you i
Undaunted Courage gets 4.5 Stars. Stephen Ambrose brings a special passion to this tale of exploration. Ambrose relates in the foreword, his lifelong fascination and exploration of the Lewis and Clark adventure. I like how he brings all the characters, Lewis, Clark, Jefferson, various Indian chiefs, members of the “Corps of Exploration” and many other participants to life. Perhaps Ambrose exaggerates some events but he tells a riveting tale. The Lewis and Clark expedition was as significant to t ...more
Mar 17, 2008 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who loves history and the courage displayed those who explored this great land, America
I have really enjoyed reading the notes made by Merriweather Lewis, and his relationship with his partner, William Clark. These were two men who really had "undaunted courage" and faced new challenges unknown to all others as they daily across this vast continent and to the Pacific Ocean and back again. This book tells about the relationship of these two men, apparently without conflict, or little, if any in the course of their exploration. In reading this book you can also learn about the many ...more
Jun 17, 2009 Ed rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History buffs and Ambrose admirers
This biography of Meriwether Lewis must have been a daunting task and Stephen Ambrose was certainly up to it.

The sections of the book covering the Lewis and Clark Expedition are as well written as anything Ambrose has done. I felt like I was there with the "Corps of Discovery", as they were named, seeing the incredible plains and mountains of the unexplored American West for the first time.

I am familiar with some of the country and have actually stood at Three Forks in Montana where the Missouri
Jul 25, 2007 David rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history lovers
I'm almost done with the book. Great. New insights. Learned about who Sakajewea (sp?) was and actually think she is a bit over rated. But that is beside the point. I learned a lot about Thomas Jefferson, the politics of the time, the trip to the Pacific and back (naturally), and the way this country was.

Interesting factoids contained in the book:
Squirril migration
Eating Dogs, Horses, roots and enjoying them

Enjoy. It is a great book!
Randy Lowe
I had a nagging feeling during most of my reading of this book, that Stephen Ambrose was annoying to me. I can't quite articulate why, and the story itself was so interesting that it didn't become a real problem. I also never quite felt oriented properly - this was for a lack of detailed maps and poor synchronization of the maps which were included to the specific geographical references in the book. You were constantly going back and forth to try and find a river or a region, which often was mi ...more
To do list - Defend “pop history,” talk about America

I was on the phone with a history major friend of mine and I told him I had just finished Undaunted Courage. He chuckled and told me Stephen Ambrose is a “pop historian” who isn’t really worth reading. Well I asked him, when was the last time he had read a research paper or PHD thesis for fun? There exists a needless divide between academic writing versus accessible, interesting yet informative writing. The divide exists because of the attit
Jan 23, 2008 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any American
Shelves: non-fiction
I recently moved from the midwest to Oregon. Shortly after arriving here I realized that I needed to know about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. You can't really understand any region without basic exposure to it's history. It would be naive to think that happened here 200 years ago no longer has an impact on our daily life as Oregonians.
With that in mind, I started to read the online version of the L&C journals that are published on a website maintained by The University of Nebraska. It wa
This was extremely thorough and very good. He not only explains what happened but also Jefferson's mentality, Lewis' desire to please Jefferson, the complete naivety of the expedition toward the Indians they encountered and how much Sacajawea helped them but didn't get much recognition in the journals. I love the remedies for the men - amazing they lived through them. "Men woke up feeling poorly. We bled them, gave them some laxatives, bleed them some more, a good dose of mercury and we were on ...more
I loved this book. A detailed look into the minds of Jefferson, Lewis and Clark. Lewis hit the pinnacle of life on his journey, however his life was cut short with bouts of depression. Very sad. This book gives you the feel that you're there step by step on the expedition. You learn so much of what they experienced along the way.
This book sat on my shelf for nearly a decade. As with the civil war and baseball, the "Ken Burns effect" extinguished any flicker of interest in the I had in the subject.

But yet, a brother-in-law had given it to me--and really liked it--so I couldn't throw it out. And my buddy Russell named his first born son after a member of the Lewis & Clark expedition. (You'll have to call him and ask. Hint:It's neither lewis nor clark nor Sacagawea). So I brought it with me on a trip, my sole reading
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 31, 2012 gabrielle rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to gabrielle by: farm boy
Shelves: history, adventure
This took me forever to read. Not because it's a bad book; quite the contrary. I loved it. It's well-written and has excellent footnotes and maps. There's just SO MUCH information in here, and I got frustrated with it and was like "OH FOR THE LOVE OF MIKE, LEWIS AND CLARK, WOULD YOU JUST GET HOME ALREADY?!" and then they get home, but there's still more story because there's the whole "what are we going to do with all these discoveries" thing. It really gives you some insight to how they must ha ...more
Undaunted Courage is dense but enjoyable and fully realized. Ambrose says in his Introduction that he wrote this as a labor of love, and it shows. His affection for his subjects (obviously Meriwether Lewis, but also President Jefferson and the expedition co-commander, William Clark) reminds me of the passion that drove the late, great Peter deNeeve, who made American history come alive for me in junior high school more than three decades ago.

Special mention should be made of the judicious way th
Scott Middleton
"Undaunted Courage" tells an unforgettable tale with a degree of minute detail that reduces the journey of Lewis & Clark to a level of excitement on par with the user manual and warranty for a fiberglass canoe. Indian fights, harrowing escapes, sexual misconduct, and hilarious misspellings occasionally lighten the mood, but more often than not I found myself wading waist-deep through pages of botanical observations, astronomical measurements, and repetitive schoolgirl adoration of Thomas Jef ...more
Karen Langs
Oct 25, 2007 Karen Langs rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Lovers
If only history were taught this way. Undaunted Courage puts the reader in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark as they search for an east-west route to the Pacific, and, at the same time explore the flora and fauna of the Louisiana Purchase.

It's really an amazing true-life adventure when you consider the terrain, the Indians, the climate, the time, the distance and all the other perils of nature. Only one man from the expedition was lost and that was due to appendicitis. A great read for history l
What these men did was amazing. Still, this book takes longer to read than it did for Lewis and Clark to reach the pacific ocean.
To start off with, this is a great book and I'd 5 star but I have two great issues with it. The first is minor, much of this book is quotations from other Lewis and Clark authors, a great deal actually. It happens a lot, obviously there have been many scholars in the field, but this leads into my major issue. Which is Ambrose gave a pretty straight write, but I don't think that outside of conglomerating a lot of information that he added anything new. Outside of a general build for his point of ...more
Nick Raynor
Undaunted Courage is a highly personal jaunt through the greatest triumph and most sorrowful moments for both a country and a man. Through the eyes of Lewis, and many of his contemporaries, we get firsthand accounts, in extreme detail, of one of the greatest feats of exploration as well as the state of a nation in its moment of establishment.

(view spoiler)
Fantastic book. It follows Lewis and Clark on their two year expedition across the American continent to the Pacific Ocean and back. At its heart, the book is a love story of the American West and all of its wild, natural beauty. When Lewis and Clark are actually on the trail, this book reads like an incredible adventure story with grizzly bear encounters, volatile Indian tribes, extreme physical hardships, and near death experiences. I think the book also qualifies as a biography of Meriwether ...more
Sarah Marie
Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose

1 star

Undaunted Courage chronicles the story of Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition, Thomas Jefferson’s dream of America’s expansion, and the events leading up to and after the expedition. Well, this is a nonfiction novel so I can’t pick apart characters or plots. That’s probably my biggest problem with Undaunted Courage it offers no great excitement besides that Indian battle. I read 50 full pages and then decided the easiest way to get through and enjoy t

Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jan 18, 2013 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Ultimate Reading List - History
This is a book both entertaining and educational--a gripping read that gave me a picture of a trail-breaking expedition of exploration and adventure that ranked not far behind the voyages of Columbus and Captain Cook in importance. I knew little of this expedition beyond that it was associated with the Louisiana Purchase and that an Indian woman, Sacajawea, was lauded as being crucial to its success. I had no idea the expedition was associated with so many firsts. Ambrose, who I had associated w ...more
A fascinating history of the exploration of land purchased by Jefferson west of the Mississipi. I enjoyed reading about the preparations for the corps of discovery almost as much as the actual voyage ! The men had to try to think of EVERYTHING they might need ... no department stores enroute !! One interesting tidbit was their preparation of medicines they thought they'd need ... Lewis was a sort of amateur herbalist ... His mom was very knowledgeable in herbal cures and remedies and taught him ...more
There is so much to love in this adventure story, and because I live in the American West, it made me appreciate the wonders I live in and near. Ambrose does a GREAT job of characterizing Lewis, and a good start to Jefferson, but Jefferson is so profound a leader, thinker and doer that a fuller picture has to be left to some other book(s). I missed having more info about Clark, who was a "frontier man" like Daniel Boone (he was from Kentucky!), unlike Lewis, who was a Virginia gentleman planter. ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this history of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's expedition
across North America to the Pacific Ocean. I learned a great deal from the book and was left in awe of many aspects of daily life at the time, the unexploited natural abundance of The Plains and Pacific Northwest, and the rigors endured by 31 men and one woman across 4,100 miles in the early 19th century.

I was utterly impressed with the breadth of skill and learning Lewis possessed for being such a young man (th
I was very surprised that I found this book as interesting as I did. I have started other non-fiction, historical accounts before and could never get into them because you already know what happens, right? But lately, I have become much more interested in learning more history. It may be learning Idaho history with my fourth-grader or a recent trip to Boston where I tried to learn more about the Revolutionary War so I could teach my kids about it as we were seeing the sights. What I realized is ...more
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Stephen Edward Ambrose was an American historian and biographer of U.S. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon. He received his Ph.D. in 1960 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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“Of courage undaunted, possessing a firmness and perseverance of purpose which nothing but impossibilities could divert from its direction, careful as a father of those committed to his charge, yet steady in the maintenance of order and discipline, intimate with the Indian character, customs, and principles; habituated to the hunting life, guarded by exact observation of the vegetables and animals of his own country against losing time in the description of objects already possessed; honest, disinterested, liberal, of sound understanding, and a fidelity to truth so scrupulous that whatever he should report would be as certain as if seen by ourselves – with all these qualifications as if selected and implanted by nature in one body for this express purpose, I could have no hesitation in confiding the enterprise to him. To fill up the measure desired, he wanted nothing but a greater familiarity with the technical language of the natural sciences, and readiness in the astronomical observations necessary for the geography of his route. To acquire these he repaired immediately to Philadelphia, and placed himself under the tutorage of the distinguished professors of that place.” 3 likes
“No wrong will ever be done you by our nation.”3” 1 likes
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