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Lewis & Clark by Nick Bertozzi
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Lewis & Clark

by Nick Bertozzi

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In Lewis & Clark, Nick Bertozzi relates the adventures of the renowned Lewis and Clark Expedition in graphic novel format, from Thomas Jefferson's initial assignment to Meriwether Lewis in Washington, D.C. and the party's final glimpse of white civilization in St. Louis, to the Pacific Ocean and back again three years later. Their journey, while at its core a scientific endeavor, would also prove invaluable in recording the locations, culture and social codes of the many Native American tribes they encountered and whose lands they traversed.

Lewis and Clark themselves are depicted as refreshingly human -- certainly not the rugged outdoorsmen or supermen one might assume the leaders of such an enterprise must be. Clark is more cautious and rational; Lewis is volatile, emotional and haunted by his own personal demons. The relative success of the Lewis and Clark Expedition is kind of amazing seen through 21st-century eyes. Although they encountered their share of hostile situations and bad luck, and were at times low on provisions, it's incredible that more men were not lost (in stark contrast to the Donner Party tragedy 42 years later). Then there is Sacagawea, the legendary Shoshone woman who served as a guide. It's important to remember that, although revered today as a heroine and a symbol of female worth and independence, she was by no means a participant by choice. Her scenes are distressing in their likely accuracy. I'm curious now to read the expedition journals myself. ( )
  ryner | Jan 31, 2014 |
Reason for Reading: I enjoy Western history.

I've read a few books on Lewis & Clark before (children's books) and read many books on the expansion of the west where the Lewis & Clark story would take up a chapter so I am familiar with this story. This book is recommended for ages 12 and up but it isn't written down to a young audience, adults will enjoy it as much or more. The book of course tells the story of their epic journey from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean, in search of a viable water route. That journey was fraught with accidents, bad luck, aggressive Indians, injuries and setbacks from nature itself. Bertozzi manages to tell a fine introductory tale of this expedition and these adventurers who were full of their success before they had even started.

Bertozzi also brings to life the personalities of Lewis and Clark in a way that I haven't encountered in my previous reading. Captain William Clark is shown as the level headed partner and thus is not the one that stands out. He is always reasoning with Lewis about there plans, calming him down, and putting out the flames of discord with others. He is shown as a quiet, intelligent, reasonable, respectful man who probably kept the expedition from becoming a mess, in more ways than one. Though he was willing to have as much fun as the next guy and went along easily enough with Lewis' more thrill-seeking adventures. On the other hand, Captain Meriwether Lewis was a man with a volatile temper, quick to anger, and if not for Clark's levelheadedness may have caused some serious trouble on their adventure. Lewis was obsessed with the expedition and finding a water route to the Ocean. When coming first upon a huge waterfall and eventually hitting the Rocky Mountains he took these hits deeply and went into deep depressions, took to drink, and could not be reasoned with. When they finally made it to the Pacific Lewis was not happy as they had not made it entirely be a water route and their stay at the end dragged on because he entered a deep depression. Bertozzi also plays up a story involving Lewis, his reactions and feeling which along with many other factors may have lead to his final act of ending his life.

Done in black and white, which I always think suits historical non-fiction well, the art is kept simple without a lot of background within the frame by frame discussions of characters. Lovely backgrounds are used but when necessary and are never added clutter. The one problem I did have though, was that at times we are supposed to read horizontally across both pages and this was not always made evident. Sometimes it was obviously clear, other times the reading went down one page and started up again at the top of the other and then there were those times you were reading along and realized you should have read horizontally across both pages once you got to the top of the second page. A minor annoyance that happened to me more times than it should have. A good, interesting story, which Bertozzi has written with a fine sense of humour but not exactly a page-turner. ( )
  ElizaJane | Apr 15, 2011 |
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Presents, in graphic novel format, the adventures of explorers Lewis and Clark during their journey from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean.

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