Summer book club: Jefferson’s America



JEFFERSON'S AMERICALewis and Clark are storied explorers of the western frontier. But President Thomas Jefferson had other explorations under way that were more hazardous and less regaled. Some of his emissaries to the western frontier were, shall we say, rough around the edges.

But these were revolutionary times in a still sparsely populated land. The mindset of Jefferson was still that of a revolutionary. Settlers had already beat the English, and now they were on to discovering lands west of colonial America to see just what they had won and how they would hold it.

With Britain, France, and Spain also competing to own the land to the west, the new American nation risked being hemmed in on its western flank, while being patrolled at sea by the British Navy.

Jefferson, with little money to launch expeditions but dreams of expansion, sent a rag-tag patchwork of explorers (whose motivations were none-too-noble) to gather information about the coveted land and the people who inhabited it.

Author Julie Fenster weaves snippets gleaned from journals of some of the explorers, and sets them in the political landscape of the day.

To the names of Lewis and Clark, we add those of William Dunbar, George Hunter, Thomas Freeman, Peter Custis, and Zebulon Pike — adventurers and fortune seekers who helped map out the new nation to the Pacific.

Jefferson’s America is a summer read for people who love the lore of explorers, early American history, and the political intrigue of a new nation.

Julie Fenster authors nonfiction on American history, including Ether Day: The Strange Tale of America’s Greatest Medical Discovery and the Haunted Men Who Made It, the story of the development of anesthesia, and Race of the Century: The Heroic True Story of the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race. 

Fenster also wrote The Case of Abraham Lincoln: A Story of Adultery, Murder, and the Making of a Great President.

We found the book at Amazon.