Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Openin

Written by:
Stephen E. Ambrose
Narrated by:
Cotter Smith

Abridged Audiobook

Release Date
June 1996
4 hours 33 minutes
From the New York Times bestselling author of Band of Brothers and D-Day, the definitive book on Lewis and Clark’s exploration of the Louisiana Purchase, the most momentous expedition in American history and one of the great adventure stories of all time.

In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson selected his personal secretary, Captain Meriwether Lewis, to lead a voyage up the Missouri River to the Rockies, over the mountains, down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean, and back. Lewis and his partner, Captain William Clark, made the first map of the trans-Mississippi West, provided invaluable scientific data on the flora and fauna of the Louisiana Purchase territory, and established the American claim to Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

Ambrose has pieced together previously unknown information about weather, terrain, and medical knowledge at the time to provide a vivid backdrop for the expedition. Lewis is supported by a rich variety of colorful characters, first of all Jefferson himself, whose interest in exploring and acquiring the American West went back thirty years. Next comes Clark, a rugged frontiersman whose love for Lewis matched Jefferson’s. There are numerous Indian chiefs, and Sacagawea, the Indian girl who accompanied the expedition, along with the French-Indian hunter Drouillard, the great naturalists of Philadelphia, the French and Spanish fur traders of St. Louis, John Quincy Adams, and many more leading political, scientific, and military figures of the turn of the century.

High adventure, high politics, suspense, drama, and diplomacy combine with high romance and personal tragedy to make this outstanding work of scholarship as readable as a novel.
Profile Avatar

I learned so much that I never knew or had even heard about the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Fascinating story.

Profile Avatar
Mark McCann

If you are looking for a light overview of the Lewis & Clark adventure, THIS IS NOT IT! This is an in-depth, detailed account of Merewether Lewis starting before his birth and ending past his death. Stephen Ambrose is a biographer who leaves no stone unturned. He is an excellent writer, and every bit if this book is packed with more information than you ever thought you wanted to know. A great book, but only if you want a microscopic look at the famed adventure. Very time consuming and at times tedious, but well worth it.

Profile Avatar

The book is a long, hard slog with some interesting moments. Part of the problem was the narrator, who was so mechanical I wondered if it was computer-generated and made basic mistakes -- the most grating of which for me was that he consistently mispronounced Monticello with a soft c. The author's accuracy was similarly brought into question for me when every time he referred to John Quincy Adams post-presidency legislative career, he called him Senator John Quincy Adams. JQA was in the House, never the Senate. These are both such basic things to get wrong and undercut my ability to trust what I could not personally verify from other sources. The book is only worthwhile in that it has a wonderful adventure story to tell. Lots of other books have told the story better.

Profile Avatar

I enjoyed the book. I learned a lot and, was amazed at the intricacy of the analysis of all aspects of the expedition. The reader was monotonous and boring.

Profile Avatar

An extremely boring litany of dates and events. The book was Boring and the narrator was awful.

Profile Avatar

This version was too abridged -- felt like I missed a lot. The narration was okay, but could/should have been more animated. The Lewis & Clark expedition is an import part of US history, the characters true adventurers & the situations they found themselves in dangerous/exciting/tragic -- this didn't quite make the mark.

Profile Avatar

I wasn't sure if I would be able to finish this selection when the narrator first started reading he was very mechanical. I am glad I stuck with it, he finds his comfort zone. The journey back and final days of Luis were more complete than other books that I have read on this subject.

Profile Avatar
Pamela Buchheit

When I selected this I thought it would be a fun interesting real life story of lewis and clark. It is real but it is not fun or interesting. The reader was soooo sllloooww and dull, it was putting me to sleep. I knew I would not be able to survive so I sent it back without even finishing one cd.

Profile Avatar
Steve Sullivan

As I listen to this excellent audiobook, I feel the pride and commitment of the participants as if I were there myself. This is an easy-to-follow assessment of one of our truly great American adventures. Oh, and the narrator speaks good english, too. None of that heavy British accent to muddle through.

Profile Avatar
Matt from Chicago

This book is long, but well worth the listen. With a subject such as Lewis and Clark, it’s easy for popular beliefs to shape the story. However, once you read this book, Ambrose sets you straight with a historically accurate version of the journey. Plus, Ambrose puts everything in context of the political climate at the time, which is very, very insightful. Ambrose also does a superb job of painting a biographical portrait of Captain Meriwether Lewis from birth to death. Personally, I enjoyed hearing “the rest of the story” about everything that happened to Lewis and Clark after they returned from their trip.

Profile Avatar

I felt the book/story was incomplete. All but 1/2 of 1 cd was about the first part of the journey. That 1/2 cd had the return trip and everything that happened to Lewis after the trip. It was like Ambrose got half way through the tale and got tierd and decided to stop.

Profile Avatar

Get the abriged version. It was more detail on the topic then I needed and 20 cds was just too much to me.

Profile Avatar
Daniel Wainwright

Another great piece of historical work from Ambrose. A fascinating adventure story from a far away time. Ambrose does a great job of describing the trip Lewis and Clark took. A very enjoyable read. My only wish is that there was more information about Clark who seemed a bit more interesting and likeable. The book does provide a fascinating look at Lewis' life after the journey, which is not something you really hear much about. I couldn't wait to get to the next batch of CDs to find out what happened.

Profile Avatar

I found the 22 hours of CDs a bit daunting at first but quickly became wrapped up in the story. This book puts to shame the tiny, edited lesson about Lewis and Clark that I learned back in grade school. The strength of their characters and the skillful way they overcame nearly all hardship on their journey were truly inspiring and I have a great respect for the expedition. For a history buff this book is a gem, and for anyone else it's still a fascinating story. I did like the reader and Ambrose is a wonderful storyteller.

Profile Avatar
Curtis Jones

The author does a magnificent job of detailing not only the accomplishments of the two great explorers, but sets the feat in its historical context beautifully. As you listen, you appreciate the two protagonists and the politics of the day. You also learn how important their feat became as the 19th century unfolded. I read where another reviewer did not like the reader of this book. I did not particularly like the reader either. However, after 20 minutes the content transports you and you become accustomed to the voice. If you love American History, you cannot miss this book. You won't be disappointed.

Profile Avatar

Though I love history and find this particular subject fascinating, I could not bear the whining, boring tones of the narrator of this book. Unfortunatly, audio books live or die on how they sound to the ear. This one, though I gave it every chance I could, ended up buried six feet under.

Profile Avatar
Myron Frerichs

I really enjoyed this selection. I don't know why history has gotten so much more interesting now that I am not forced to study it in school. Stephen Ambrose has done a great job of detailing Meriwether Lewis and his life. It was definitely a good listen.

Profile Avatar
LP McGinnis

It was great to actually learn some of the details of this historic journey instead of the single paragraph that it seems to receive in our grade school textbooks.

1 book added to cart
View Cart