Undaunted Courage

Narrated by: Barrett Whitener
Length: 21 hrs and 40 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3,947 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson selected his personal secretary, Captain Meriwether Lewis, to lead a voyage up the Missouri River, across the forbidding Rockies, and - by way of the Snake and Columbia rivers - down to the Pacific Ocean. Lewis and his partner, Captain William Clark, endured incredible hardships and witnessed astounding sights. With great perseverance, they worked their way into an unexplored West. When they returned two years later, they had long since been given up for dead.

Undaunted Courage is supported by a variety of colorful characters: Jefferson and his vision of the West; Clark, the artist and mapmaker; and Lewis, the enigma, who led brilliantly but considered the mission a failure. After suffering several periods of depression - and despite his status as national hero - Lewis died mysteriously, apparently by his own hand.

©1996 Ambrose-Tubbs Inc. (P)1996 Books on Tape Inc., All Rights Reserved

Critic Reviews

"... a swiftly moving, full-dress treatment of the expedition." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Ambrose's epic, a combination of rhapsody and reality, feels like a final glimpse at a pristine Eden before the crowd of trappers and settlers altered it forever." ( Booklist)

What members say
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Could not stand to finish the book

I usually love Stephen Ambrose, but this book reads too much like a date and time history book. To make matters worse, the narration is so bad that at times it sounds like computer generated text-to-speech/

44 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Narration kills a great book

I read this great book many years ago when it was first published and found it facinating. Ambrose's skill really broadened my reading experience and I have read many many historical books since because of it. I purchaed the audio version because I was planning to drive to Montana from Florida and I thought this book would be a fantastic counterpoint to my lengthy journey. Sad to say that the flat, droning, expressionless, uninspired (I could go on) narration ruined the book for me. Mr. Whitener is a reader from the very early days of "books-on-tape" and maybe I have been spoiled by the performances of Jim Dale, but I just couldn't listen to this book. Please try the sample before you buy this audiobook and know that what you hear is what you get - the same nasal tone and lack of emphasis throughout. If a better performer was to do this book over, I would buy it in a minute. I gave this one star because the book is really really great.

75 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great detail about this historical event...

Undaunted Courage brought alive many details about the Lewis and Clark "Corps of Discovery". I gained a better understanding of the political mind of Jefferson and political thought of the time; specifically from the colonists' perspective but with plenty of opportunity to see things from the natives' perspective. I also gained a better understanding of the logistics involved and what the expedition encountered.

I was taken in by the story and even looked forward to my commute.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Undaunted Courage

A must read. This is a wonderful read with larger than life characters. If you love history or Indian Culture this is a must read. This is the best history book I have read this year. Compatriot Ambrose has to have rated this among his best works. He truly lets us see the strong character of Clark and the fascinating complexity of Lewis. If you read only one book this year, this is the one.

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome! But...

Awesome piece of work! But what in the world were they thinking hiring a robot as narrator?!?

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Another Great book

Another great book by Stephen Ambrose we will miss him as a writer and historian. I found the book insightful and entertaining Ambrose opened this land up for all of us to see as Lewis and Clark saw it. Makes me want to go out and follow the trail they blazed. I live in the Northern Plains and I couldn't imagine living as they did at Ft. Mandan in the winter and have a longing to go back there. They must have been exceptional men.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, but.

Would you try another book from Stephen E. Ambrose and/or Barrett Whitener?

From Stephen Ambrose? Yes. But I will avoid any books read by Whitener again.

What didn’t you like about Barrett Whitener’s performance?

Dry. Dead. Automated. He gave no life. It sounded exactly like a computer reading the book. His voice was flat, monotone, with incorrect emphasis on words. His timbre was horrible and ill suited to the subject matter. He made a wonderful story that has so much life, to be dry as dust and uninteresting. If I could ask for my money back, I would.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Ambrose's Masterwork!

Ambrose's passion for history and study of leadership fueled this masterwork: the best and most definitive-to-date examination and interpretation of the Corps of Discovery, their extraordinary co-Captains, and the first expedition of the Louisiana Purchase and the Oregon Country up the Missouri, across the Rockies, and down the Columbia to the Pacific Ocean.

Ken Burns called it "grade school history you forgot." Ambrose's passion for detail reveals far more than that, especially Sacajawea's true importance in the success of the expedition.

Ambrose called Lewis "as fine a company commander as the U.S. Army ever produced." The decisions he had to make while out of touch with civilization proved President Thomas Jefferson's wisdom in selecting and grooming him to lead this expedition.

Ambrose also recounts what happened after the expedition's end, including Lewis's unfortunate early demise.

The only thing missing from this unabridged audio version are the foreword and afterword Ambrose recorded for the abridged version, which captured Ambrose's passion about this expedition and how often he and his family camped along the Lewis & Clark Trail.

Recommended reading/listening: the audio abridged version with Ambrose's foreword and afterword.

Recommended viewing: The Ken Burns/Dayton Duncan film, _Lewis & Clark: The Journey of The Corps of Discovery_ (1997), featuring commentary from Ambrose and many of the experts who contributed to this book.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing journey

Ambrose makes you feel you are part of this journey. The story telling is fascinating, the achievements are grand, the task at hand for these folks (all of them) is mind numbing to comprehend but this book brings it all together in a complete and exciting way. This is Ambrose's best book.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

The trip would have been less painful

Any additional comments?

If I would have walked from Pittsburgh to the Pacific coast it would have been less painful than listening to this book. It was like listening to Ben Stein read his grocery shopping list. This book came as a recommendation from a friend. I may never speak to that person again.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • sarahmoose2000
  • 02-12-11

Travels with Lewis and Clarke

This started off a bit too much like a schoolbook and I felt my mind wandering; but if you stick with it, you are brought into the trip and it's great. I found it very sad towards the end, as we are left to watch how Lewis suffers from being a great leader, to an ill shell of a man. Hankies at the ready!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Steve Harris
  • 02-07-20

As though you were there.

A fantastic read that takes you on a journey on which you feel a part.
At the end, such is the regard and respect you feel for Meriwether Lewis, his loss felt like that of losing a friend.