Friday, June 1, 2012


A review of The Journals of Lewis and Clark edited by John Bakeless (2004)

(Rating 2 of 5)

 This has to be one most boring things I have ever read. I suppose I should blame myself for getting my hopes up, having read Julius Caesar’s Commentaries and the Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, I was expecting to read something good. Unfortunately, there is not much of that here. Out of the 382 pages in this book, there are about five to ten good and interesting letters. The rest of it is just dull. Since game was plentiful and the expedition was using only 1804 technology they did not carry many perishables. So in order to get their meat they hunted, and that is what consists of majority of their letters. ‘We went here today, shot X amount of animals from Y animal group.’ If you want to know what Lewis and Clark ate every day on their trip then this is the book for you. Towards the end of the book they run low on food, get desperate, and start eating their dogs. To their surprise they find they like eating dog for their meals. They rank dog meat as better than elk and most deer but not as good as buffalo. Lewis even mentions that they were almost never healthier! I thought about quoting some of good letters but I am not going to because after spending a week reading this book, I am really quite done with it. It is a real sleeper. The only reason I rank it a ‘2’ and not ‘1’ is I think John Bakeless did some fine editing and put in a lot of useful footnotes. However he cannot save the dullness of this boring work.

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