Lewis & Clark Review

By | Thursday, March 10, 2011 Leave a Comment
I am still out of town, but wanted to take a little time to write a quick review of Lewis and Clark by Nick Bertozzi.

The book is a historical look at the full classic expedition from 1803 when Congress first approved funding the trip through 1810 after Lewis' death. It is not so much a strict and literal accounting of the adventure itself but rather a broader impression of things. Not that Bertozzi is dropping in all sorts of bizarre fictions, but the focus is one what Lewis (primarily) and Clark had to deal with. Insubordinate underlings, language barriers, negotiations with multiple Native American tribes, uncertain food sources, illnesses, worn shoe soles, etc. It has a solid overview of the trip, but that is just the backdrop to the challenges of exploring the American West.

One of the aspects that I really liked was their dealings with the Native Americans. In the first place, they are shown as clearly different and distinct tribes with their own cultures and societal mores. They are also shown as intelligent and motivated to work with the explorers. More inclined than to work with other tribes in many cases.

Related to that, the communication issues are handled very cleverly. The dialogue switches between English and the various tribes' languages. But when a Native language is being written (in English, so the reader can understand) other languages were displayed as gibberish. Essentially providing the reader with the impression of how a Sioux or Shoshone might "understand" what the Americans were saying.

A couple of the page layouts were a little confusing, mainly when they switch from a left/right opposition to a single layout. Unlike many comics that delineate the difference with a large splash, there did not seem to me to be a good reason in some cases why a double page spread option was used. It was not distracting to the point of making dislike the story at all, but it did pull me out of the story momentarily.

It was a really good read. Certainly a great way to introduce people to Lewis & Clark in a way that is MUCH more interesting than what you learned in social studies class.
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