FORWARD THE NATION by Donald Colross Peattle


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This might almost rank as fiction, built around the facts and characters of the historic Lewis and Clark expedition. Peattle has spent a tremendous amount of time steeping himself in the primary sources:- the diaries of the two leaders, in all their editions; the later findings of journals and letters and records left by other members of the expedition, which lend color and drama and human interest to the rather starkly factual official records (Ordway, Shannon, Gass, etc.); the early record left by Lewis of the preliminaries to the expedition and the trip to Pittsburgh; contemporary findings relating to Sacajawen; some unpublished material on the Montana and Ida country, and so on. The result is a vital record, human, dramatic, thoroughly readable, of the expedition, one of the great sagas of pioneering through uncharted wilderness. It supplements the recent Jefferson material (see report on Padover biography with special comment of omission of Lewis and Clark expedition -- Page 222) in this his anniversary year. And it is above all a moving story of the Shoshone girl, Sacajawea, and the great contribution she made to the success of the journey, I could wish there had been more of the story of the Columbia River exploration -- and the return trip; the emphasis is almost solely on that part of the expedition up to the Great Divide and the cementing of the relations between the whites and the Shoshones. Most of it is superbly conceived and executed; Peattie is wholly at one with the sense of the wilderness; but now and again, one feels that his style is too lush for the stark drama of the story he is telling. However -- for the Peattle fans, a natural.

Pub Date: May 25th, 1942
Publisher: Putnam