I am a history nerd, and early America is my favorite era to learn about. Strangely, I never had an interest in the exploration or expansion of the new country. Thanks to this book, that has changed.
I must mention that this is the most accurately titled book I have ever encountered. It is indeed about Jefferson, the effects of the Louisiana Purchase, and the brave explorers who risked their lives for the sake of knowledge. The only explorers I knew about were Lewis and Clark, and even though they were the most popular in their time as well, there were more. The book discussed the experiences of Dunbar, Hunter, Freeman, Pike, and Lewis and Clark, but also mentioned the failed attempts of previous explorers.
What I learned upon reading this book is what truly fearless heroes these explorers were. Because borders were not defined when the Purchase was made, there was a Cold War with Spain who felt that the land was still theirs. The Spaniards were hostile and would send their military to imprison or kill the trespassers. I felt that particularly, Freeman’s mission was a direct threat to his life. I admired the bravery behind his response when warned that 1300 Spanish soldiers awaited him in the distance, “My instructions were to proceed until stopped by a superior force.” and with that gave the Natives traveling with him, the opportunity to turn back. Did he survive? Read the book to find out.
Aside from their bravery, I also love the excerpts describing their experiences with unknown people, animals and plants. In particular, I loved the description of Lewis and Clark’s encounter with Grizzly Bears. I even loved the way they handled hostile Natives who tried to instill fear in them. They were a great team that would not be cowered, and just worked well together. I loved learning a little more about them, and learning all about all these other explorers.
Their experiences all differed, but in particular one interesting shared experience was the suspension of morality and social norms. Finding themselves so far from home, these explorers did things they would never think they could do. Many found it difficult to go back home when their lives had so drastically changed.
These explorers became the new nation’s heroes. They were not people of science, they were ordinary folks. This is the American Dream and the nation loved them for allowing them to dream of becoming the next explorers. Overall, it was a great read, and I would recommend to any history buff. I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, and I am so grateful because I would probably not have picked it up otherwise. 4.5/5.
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