Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

James Daugherty begins each of the five major sections in Of Courage Undaunted: Across the Continent with Lewis and Clark with a narrative poem summarizing the events detailed in the shorter segments. The segments themselves are often organized by the place and date of the expedition’s journey, thus creating a kind of journalistic narrative that is supported by actual selections from the journal entries of both Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Each entry details both men’s thoughts and observations, listing the exact date and location of the campsite. Focusing on the early lives of both expedition leaders, Daugherty’s narrative rapidly sets the stage for the departure of the expedition from St. Louis in 1803. Lewis was hired as the private secretary of President Thomas Jefferson, who acquired the Louisiana Territory from France and designated Lewis as commander in chief of the mission to reach the Pacific Ocean and secure the territory for the rapidly expanding country. Lewis contacted his old friend Clark, under whom he fought during the Whisky Rebellion. A crew was formed of expert hunters, trackers, guides, and interpreters.

Daugherty follows the expedition’s struggle up the Missouri River in barges toward unknown territory, highlighting such dramatic moments as tribal contact, animal sightings, and discoveries of new waterways. The journey was anything but easy: One of the men contracted a disease and died, and others were whipped...

(The entire section is 527 words.)