- Lewis and Clark Reframed: Examining Ties to Cook, Vancouver, and Mackenzie by David L. Nicandri
In the foreword to this volume, Clay Jenkinson states, "Our assessment of the Lewis and Clark story will never end," and neither will our fascination with the men, the woman, the baby, and [End Page 113] the dog who composed the Corps of Discovery (p. xv). Nicandri (former Washington State Historical Society Director) addresses both facets—assessment and fascination—in this engaging series of essays, some of which are new and others revisions of previous publications. His central focus is to place the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the context of Enlightenment Era scientific exploration.
Drawing from journals of George Vancouver, James Cook, and Alexander Mackenzie, Nicandri shows how Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were acquainted with those writings and utilized the knowledge gained by their predecessors—and in some instances plagiarized their words into their own journals. For example, Nicandri references Vancouver's writings when scrutinizing Clark's "Ocian in view. O! The joy" statement and other journal entries documenting when the Corps neared the Pacific Ocean. A study of Clark's words indicate that he was familiar with Vancouver's maps and descriptions of the area. At Fort Clatsop, Lewis wrote of his loneliness and longings for home and the normality of life that would return when the explorers completed their journey. This, too, was a familiar topic in the writings of Cook—works known to Lewis.
Another topic that Nicandri takes up is Lewis's relationship with Clark; most writers describe the two men as the best of friends who never disagreed or quarreled during the expedition. Nicandri urges a more careful reading of the Lewis and Clark journals, and it becomes evident that this belief was not true. Yes, the two men were friends, but Clark was aware that Lewis always put himself out ahead of the group so that he could make the great so-called discoveries, such as the Great Falls of the Missouri, or to have first contact with Native tribes. Lewis's journal entries appear to have been polished and ready-for-publication, even when contemplating the vast scenery and challenges before them, his place in the world, and his 1805 birthday pledge to himself to do better. It is important to remember the fate of the journals and Lewis's tardiness in seeing to their publication; it was Clark, the number two man, who saw to their printing and distribution. One of the mysteries of the expedition is how many men kept journals and whether some of those journals have not yet been discovered or were destroyed. Nicandri examines the pattern of how Lewis and Clark re-named geographic locations and postulates that this indicates who kept journals.
A highlight of this book is the author's frequent references to others who have written about Lewis and Clark and the influence their work has had on him as well as a broad readership. The final essay, "Whither the Exploration of Lewis and Clark: Recent Trends and Future Directions" is outstanding and is sure to capture readers' attention and inspire further reading or re-reading of wellknown texts. Throughout the essays in this book, Nicandri praises Gary E. Moulton and his definitive work as editor of the Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expeditions, published by the University of Nebraska. He also notes John Logan Allen, James Ronda, Stephen Ambrose, Clay Jenkinson, Thomas Slaughter, and filmmakers Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan for their contributions as well as their importance in asking questions and inspiring research. Nicandri calls for additional studies in ethnology, environmental geography, and the impact of the expedition on tribal histories.
As Nicandri demonstrates, a careful, word-by-word analysis of the journals, placed within the context of Enlightenment-era exploration writings, is needed. It is also necessary to study not only what is written in the journals, but what is not written. These thought-provoking...