Essay on Critical Review of Undaunted Courage

885 Words Aug 6th, 2005 4 Pages
Critical Review of Undaunted Courage

Stephen Ambrose's Undaunted Courage is a remarkable piece of nonfiction literature. His work is so thorough that one wonders how he has time to do much more. Yet he has created time in his life to go west and go camping and hiking and canoeing in the summers with his family. Which possibly shows that anything can be raw material to the open mind, for it was on those trips that he developed a great fascination with the Lewis and Clark expedition that explored the West when the country was twenty-five years old. Ambrose creates a precise and true story of the expedition in witch most readers would be enthralled. His style is smooth, readable and enjoyable, unlike many historical nonfiction of the day.
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Lewis chose an associate, William Clark, to join him in command. Though Clark's official Army rank was lieutenant, theirs was a true co-captaincy. Most people's perception of early builders of America is with a purity of reason and purpose, while, Ambrose shows that they are just as greedy then as they are now. Also in the way of the book Ambrose wipes out the belief that Indians were innocent harmless humans. They were filthy, dishonest, and belligerent, and awful to their women, not totally unlike the mass of mankind.
In the end, not many of the goals were achieved. There was no all-water route to the pacific. Nearly all of Lewis and Clark's findings and accomplishments went unaccredited to them because of Lewis's failure to print his journals, which Ambrose calls a "treasure of American literature". And three years after their return, Lewis committed suicide. Nonetheless, at its conclusion the expedition seemed an impressive enterprise. Two hundred years later, thanks to Ambrose, it still does. The journey across the country is told in such a readable style that one forgets they are reading about history. Ambrose makes much use of their journals, and inserts his own analysis on why certain decisions were made, both intelligently and not, over others. Ambrose points to the exceptional leadership of "the captains", but he is aware to their mistakes. Similarly in his

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