Undaunted Courage

Version: Unabridged (Abridged version available here)
Author: Stephen E. Ambrose
Narrator: Barrett Whitener
Genres: History, Fiction & Literature
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published In: June 2001
# of Units: 20 CDs
Length: 22 hours
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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.

Reviews (18)

Interesting Topic

Written by Linda on January 20th, 2016

  • Book Rating: 4/5

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

some basics wrong

Written by suemdc on October 8th, 2014

  • Book Rating: 2/5

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.

Undaunted Courage

Written by Anonymous on July 10th, 2014

  • Book Rating: 3/5

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.


Written by PNJ from Palm Desert, CA on November 24th, 2013

  • Book Rating: 1/5

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

Written by on September 27th, 2012

  • Book Rating: 3/5

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.

This was more complete

Written by Anonymous on January 28th, 2010

  • Book Rating: 4/5

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.

Not what I expected

Written by Pamela Buchheit on December 18th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 1/5

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.

undaunted courage

Written by Steve Sullivan from Lowell, MA on August 10th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 5/5

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.

Undaunted Courage

Written by Mark McCann on May 11th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 4/5

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.

Like the journey itself, long but worth it

Written by Matt from Chicago on September 30th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 4/5

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.

Author Details

Author Details

Ambrose, Stephen E.

"Dr. Stephen Ambrose was a renowned historian, biographer, and acclaimed author of more than 30 books. Among his New York Times best-sellers were: NOTHING LIKE IT IN THE WORLD, CITIZEN SOLDIERS, BAND OF BROTHERS, D-DAY - JUNE 6, 1944, UNDAUNTED COURAGE, and WILD BLUE. TO AMERICA: Personal Reflections of an Historian is his latest book; and coming out in the winter 2002 is MERIWETHER LEWIS, THOMAS JEFFERSON, AND THE OPENING OF THE AMERICAN WEST: The Climactic Battle of World War II.

He was not only a great author, but also a captivating speaker, with the unique ability to provide insight into the future by employing his profound knowledge of the past. His stories demonstrated how leaders use trust, friendship and shared experiences to work together and thrive during conflict and change. His philosophy about audience engagement was best put in his own words:

As I sit at my computer, or stand at the podium, I think of myself as sitting around the campfire after a day on the trail, telling stories that I hope will have the members of the audience, or the readers, leaning forward just a bit, wanting to know what happens next.

Dr. Ambrose was a retired Boyd Professor of History at the University of New Orleans. He was the Director Emeritus of the Eisenhower Center in New Orleans, and the founder of the National D-day Museum. He was also a contributing editor for the Quarterly Journal of Military History, a member of the board of directors for American Rivers, and a member of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Council Board.

His talents did not go unnoticed by the film industry. Dr. Ambrose was the historical consultant for Steven Spielberg's movie Saving Private Ryan. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks also purchased the film rights to his books CITIZEN SOLDIERS and BAND OF BROTHERS, which resulted in a 13-hour HBO mini-series in 2001.

Ambrose also participated in numerous national television programs, including ones for the History Channel and National Geographic."