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Outline ReviewStorytellers are many, but illustrators are few--and few books on the epic journey of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark are as beautiful as The Saga of Lewis & Clark. Illustrations from the original journals reveal the explorers' creative spelling and fine cartographic abilities; old drawings and etchings lend authenticity to the chronicle; and color photographs prove that the dramatic landscape they encountered remains wild in places.
The reproductions of paintings by Karl Bodmer and George Catlin from the 1830s are particularly stunning. The same paintings and journal excerpts appear in other illustrated accounts--including the companion volume to Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns's PBS special on the Corps of Discovery--but without the clarity and vibrancy achieved in this edition.
Brothers Thomas and Jeremy Schmidt are particularly adept as guides to the foreign landscape encountered by Lewis and Clark. Writers and naturalists with nearly two dozen books to their collective credit, they are clearly enamored with the Corps of Discovery and the West. Although one brother recently retraced the expedition's route from St. Louis to the Pacific, they don't let that experience intrude on a narrative that is richly embroidered with the explorers' own colorful language. Other works offer better prose, but as an introduction to Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, this fine work succeeds handsomely. --Pete Holloran
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