On 14 May 1804 Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out from Cape Dubois near St Louis with nearly four dozen man and headed west on the Missouri River. Sent by their scientist - President Thomas Jefferson, they were embarking on the nation's first exploration into unknown places, the most important expedition in American history. They called themselves the Corps of Discovery, yet they would fail to discover the primary object of their mission - the Northwest passage - a mythical all-river route through the mountains. Instead, their real discovery would be the land itself - and the promises it held. This magnificent book, written by Dayton Duncan - with contributions from Ken Burns, Stephen Ambrose and Erica Funkhouser - is illustrated with the full spectrum of animals, plants , landscapes, people and entire cultures which had never previously been seen by 'civilized' men. It also draws on the journals kept by Lewis and Clark and by others in the Corps: reports of their encounters with indians; loving descriptions of the Western landscape; introductions to two of the most fascinating characters in the party, the Shoshone woman Sacagawea and Clark's slave York; intense accounts of hunger, numbing cold, loneliness, excitement and much more.