Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
Ambrose makes journey of Lewis and Clark come alive
Strange it is the discoveries we make as we grow older. In my 70th year by chance I picked up a book by Stephen Ambrose. The book was titled To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian, published ironically the year Ambrose died, 2002.
I was immediately attracted to the man and his writing. The more I read, the more embarrassed I felt for having been ignorant of his books for the past 35 years. The reason for my ignorance was no mystery. As a pastor my reading had focused almost entirely on theology. Now I am the poorer for my tunnel vision.
I never met Stephen Ambrose but I wish I had. He made history come alive for me like no other writer. For that I am in his debt.
Last week I finished Ambrose’s excellent account of the Lewis and Clark expedition, Undaunted Courage. Since I am not a fast reader, I was on the journey with Lewis and Clark for many weeks. My ritual was to read a few pages every night.
Earlier I had
enjoyed reading Wild
Blue: The B24s Over
Ambrose is best known for his histories of World War II, especially
of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne, from Normandy to
Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, and D-Day,
He wrote several volumes on Eisenhower and Nixon that were well received. I plan to read them after I finish my next selection: Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, 1863-1869.
Another title that interests me is Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors. That has to be a good one.
American owes it to himself to read about the courageous journey of Meriwether
Lewis and William Clark. It is truly a remarkable story that tells of the
expansion of the
author gives us a fresh appreciation for Thomas Jefferson, the man responsible
were a younger man I would try to follow the trail of Lewis and Clark, sit by
some campfires in
and Clark enjoyed a marvelous friendship and an undying respect for each other.
They complimented each other and worked as one in every major decision.
Through the eyes of the two men we see the west as it was only 200 years ago when it was the home of thousands of Indians, buffaloes, beavers, deer, and elk. Startling for me was learning how many different tribes of Indians possessed the land until they were pushed aside by the frontiersmen.
Lewis was the greatest of all American explorers, a splendid company commander, and a truly gifted leader of men. He was gifted at identifying and describing plants, trees, and animals. Both he and Clark were good at mapping the rivers and streams.
Lewis was done at 33. He failed as a politician, unable to handle the honor
Jefferson gave him of serving as governor of the
Only once in the story is God mentioned. If Lewis and Clark loved God, they forgot to speak of it. The only reference to God in 484 pages comes at the end when Lewis commits suicide. A woman hears him cry out, “O Lord!” after shooting himself in the head.
Undaunted Courage is a book every American should read. We have a great heritage and we owe a lot to Lewis, Clark, and Jefferson. + + + +