Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Essential Lewis and Clark” as Want to Read:
The Essential Lewis and Clark
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Essential Lewis and Clark

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  202 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
The journals of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark remain the single most important document in the history of American exploration. Through these tales of adventure, edited and annotated by American Book Award nominee Landon Jones, we meet Indian peoples and see the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and western rivers the way Lewis and Clark first observed them -- majest ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 19th 2002 by Harper Perennial (first published July 1999)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Essential Lewis and Clark, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Essential Lewis and Clark

The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen by Howard CarterOver the Edge of the World by Laurence BergreenUndaunted Courage by Stephen E. AmbroseThe Lost City of Z by David GrannThe White Nile by Alan Moorehead
The Great Explorers
24th out of 130 books — 54 voters
Blood River by Tim ButcherOver the Edge of the World by Laurence BergreenIn the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel PhilbrickTurn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark    AdamsUndaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose
Best Historical Travel Journals
170th out of 180 books — 163 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 411)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 03, 2013 Joseph rated it really liked it
I've always been interested in how Native Americans lived before Europeans came to America and never could find a good book. I was surprised on how much detail Lewis & Clark described the tribes they encountered. They were the first outside group (whites and one black slave) that many Native Americans ever encountered. Really interesting stuff. It would be a great book for a high school or college level history class. In my opinion, students would learn more from this book than the standard ...more
Gail Pool
Apr 14, 2016 Gail Pool rated it really liked it
“Long before Huck lit out for the territory, Lewis and Clark…defined the territory,” writes Landon Y. Jones in the introduction to his selection from the explorers’ journals. “During their journey, and in their journals, Lewis and Clark created an epic,” he observes, “one whose effect on our collective imagination has made it, over time, the unofficial Odyssey of American history.”

The two Captains and their band, the Corps of Discovery, set out in 1804 with instructions from President Jefferson
Josh Miller
Aug 15, 2014 Josh Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have not read many books that are compiled in a "diary-like" nature. However, this book was fascinating as one could really imagine all of the scenarios playing out while Lewis & Clark made their famous trek across the Wild, Wild, West and Northwest to find a passage to the Pacific Ocean. This voyage was commissioned on behalf of the President Thomas Jefferson and the United States government shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

Throughout school, I had briefly studied this expedit
Aug 22, 2016 Dave rated it liked it
A solid, unadorned overview of the Lewis and Clark expedition as related by abridged excerpts from their journals. "Essential" may be going too far, however, since it leaves many questions unanswered. The excerpts are sparsely annotated and explanatory notes are few. Perhaps this bare bones format is meant to whet the reader's appetite for more detailed accounts of the voyage, but it feels lacking. Yet if you want a quick introduction to L&C's greatest hits—grizzly bear encounters; eating do ...more
Oct 08, 2014 Hyrum rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I assume that a large portion of their journals has been cut out since the expedition was out for three years and there were only like 8 CDs. But that means that they left in only the exciting parts. Since it is history and not a novel it doesn't follow the traditional build up to a climax but that doesn't mean it wasn't very interesting. The part I found most interesting was the descriptions of the various Indians. Lewis and Clark met many different tribes while they were on their journey and t ...more
Peter Galamaga
Apr 12, 2012 Peter Galamaga rated it really liked it
I bought this audio book 7 years ago - I think as a result of an intriguing interview on the radio. So when it finally got to the top of my " pile" I wasn't sure what to expect. Mostly - I was expecting to be bored. Man - was I surprised.
This is an abridged/edited version of the diaries of Lewis and Clark as they crossed the country and reached the Pacific ocean. It's read by two narrators - one for each explorer and one of them is Tom Wopat (Luke Duke for you 70s TV fans) and they re
Don Weidinger
Aug 25, 2014 Don Weidinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
2quarts whiskey June04 St Louis, small pox deaths, elk on sandbar, Bad Humor, high cheek bones, whip, trade squaw, April05 Yellowstone River, 3 forks, west of Dillon 8/05 merry people in extreme poverty, ate dogs, May06 when do we start back, Sept cut horses sweat lodge tree fire for good journey bad mosquitoes bears 10Kbuffalo, August party disperse and first liquor in year, Sept 21 St Charles 3500 miles including 340 over land 3 bear species.
Oct 25, 2015 George rated it really liked it
This is a book of "distilled" journals from the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1803-1806. Since it's extracted, it's very abbreviated and, supposedly, the boring parts are left out. I discovered a few things about the expedition that I did not know: the Missouri country was also populated with white people (trappers), venereal disease existed among the Indians, Clark was never commissioned a "Captain" by Congress, Lewis got shot on the way back...just to name a few. Good reference if you don't want ...more
Gus Breymann
Dec 14, 2015 Gus Breymann rated it liked it
The book consists entirely of excerpts from the actual journal writings of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark during their journey across the plains and mountains to the Oregon coast, 1804-1806, and return. Of particular note to me was their descriptions of encounters with a wide variety of Indian peoples between St. Louis and Fort Clatsop. If you seek excellent prose, analysis and interpretation of the Lewis and Clark expedition, this is not the book for you. If you want the two explorers' chro ...more
Jon Box
Jan 24, 2016 Jon Box rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, history
Good, edited accounts of the Lewis and Clark journey up the Missouri, down the Snake/Colombia, to the Pacific, and back from the horses' mouths. Learned some things I hadn't heard in "Undaunted Courage", but after awhile it got somewhat repetitive (bears, Indians, lack of foods). There was much less mention of the other flora and fauna ... Still a fair read.
Oct 15, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it
Via audiobook, my husband & I listened to this on a recent road trip. Extremely interesting to learn how these 2 19th century explorers made it to the the Pacific Ocean from St. Louis. Well read by the 2 actors. Full of information concerning the various Indian tribes from Missouri to California.
Mar 29, 2009 Brian rated it really liked it
Fantastic. Just fantastic. What was most striking about Lewis and Clark was that in many ways they were not only pioneers but also role models. Brave, yes, but also model friends, attentive captains, and generally fair and scrupulous diplomats with the many Indian tribes they met. This edited version of their journals, its entries selected with keen historical and dramatic sensibility, is a real page-turner, reading like a well-paced novel and grabbing you like a Hollywood blockbuster. Would rec ...more
Karen Hood
Mar 11, 2014 Karen Hood rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Great historical book to read!The Essential Lewis and Clark
Standardized spelling (and spell check) is a blessing! This book is a selection of Lewis and Clark's most relevant journal entries from their trip to the Pacific Ocean on the Oregon coast, and back to civilization. It was written before dictionaries became widely used, and boy can that make the reading confusing at times. It was interesting to see how many ways Clark could spell Charbonneau. I think that there were about 7 or 8 different spellings.

I was struck once again how arduous the explorat
Jeff Bare
Mar 04, 2014 Jeff Bare rated it really liked it
Pretty wild adventure those fellows had. Nice selection of journal entries keeps the story moving. Excellent readers in the audiobook.
It would be such a great adventure to travel the country as Lewis and Clark did. This was an interesting read with journal detailing the difficulties and the customs of the people they met.
Bonnie Dieffenbacher
Jan 21, 2016 Bonnie Dieffenbacher rated it really liked it
Pieces of both Lewis and Clark's diaries. Very interesting.
Keith Lovell
Jun 08, 2015 Keith Lovell rated it liked it
A bit dry as one expects from diary excerpts.
Jul 14, 2009 Lauren rated it it was ok
Shelves: clean
I actually didn't finish this book. I only got about halfway through and decided to start another book that was on hold for me at the library. What Lewis and Clark went through was amazing, but I had a hard time with the format of the book. Since it is just excerpts from their journal entries, it jumps around and doesn't flow very well. The frequent misspelling is also very distracting for me, so I had a hard time focusing on the book. Maybe I'll pick it up again later and finish it someday.
I enjoyed the audiobook, with distinct voice actors performing Lewis and Clark. They were surprisingly descriptive regarding flora, fauna, landscapes, and cultures they encountered.
Cathy Houston
Mar 23, 2014 Cathy Houston rated it liked it
difficult read due to spelling and syntax but interesting information
Mike Dunn
Jul 05, 2014 Mike Dunn rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history
Terrifically edited primary source on the Lewis & Clark journey. Don't expect any substantial analysis, or really any author opinion. Know that it's merely a seriously edited version of their journals. Nicely put together with clear edits, and a clear author goal.
Nov 17, 2011 Cyndi rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
Journal entries of Lewis and Clark's expedition. I had heard most of the stories before so that is why the low rating. The material is not really presented in an interesting manner and without a background or knowledge of the era, your understanding could be diminished of what a truly great undertaking this was and the value of what was gleaned. Left me wanting more.
Collection of journal entries by Lewis and Clark. Interesting... worked fairly well as an audio book and kept me interested. The best parts involved Sharbono and his constant screw-ups.

-Sharbono lost my axe and gun
-Sharbono almost capsized the boat today.
-Sharbono nearly shot me.
Jun 21, 2010 Tracy rated it liked it
This book was interesting but I would have gotten into it more if it was written like a novel instead of like a diary. The entries, of course, didn't flow because they were written different days so sometimes I had a difficult time paying attention.
I guess technically I haven't read this book, since I couldn't drag myself further than the fifth or sixth chapter. I'm sure it's rich with information, but it is, um well. . . boring. Sorry. Maybe you loved it.
Dec 04, 2010 Marni marked it as to-read
Shelves: historical
I flipped through and read portions of this. Something I would like to get back to. The journal excerpts are fun to read! You get to read their actual experiences instead of commentary and summary.
Mark Selby
Dec 27, 2012 Mark Selby rated it it was amazing
Every American should be acquainted with the journals of Lewis and Clark. I listened to the audio book of this excerpt. The narration greatly enhanced the experience and enjoyment.
Matt Anderson
Jan 28, 2013 Matt Anderson rated it liked it
Very interesting accounts to read of the journey. However it would have been far more interesting if there were contextual or background descriptions for the journal notes.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 13 14 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery
  • Battle at Sea: 3,000 Years of Naval Warfare
  • Wahoo: The Patrols of America's Most Famous World War II Submarine
  • Nathanael Greene: A Biography of the American Revolution
  • Understanding Genesis
  • Computer: A History of the Information Machine
  • War in European History
  • Henry Knox: Visionary General of the American Revolution
  • Ancient Rome
  • Submarine!
  • John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy
  • The Journals of Lewis and Clark
  • Jefferson's War: America's First War on Terror 1801-1805
  • Modern Physics
  • The Prize: Vermont (Tales from a Revolution)
  • 100 Essential Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know
  • A Step Farther Out

Share This Book