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New book traces the ‘dubious pursuits’ of explorer William Clark

Explorer William Clark is most well known for his famous expedition with Meriwether Lewis. A few years prior, in 1798, he traveled to Spanish Louisiana.
(Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

William Clark and Meriwether Lewis’ expedition as part of the 1804 Corps of Discovery is one of the more well-known and celebrated journeys in American history.

Not as well known, however, is William Clark’s journey a few years prior down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to Spanish Louisiana in 1798.

In her new book, “The Unknown Travels and Dubious Pursuits of William Clark,” author Jo Ann Trogdon traces Clark’s endeavors that included espionage, bribery and smuggling. The book – through Clark’s own words in his journal – also reveals how the not yet thirty-year-old was then developing important skills such as navigation of a western river, command of often unruly crewmen, cartography and survival in foreign territory.

"He was not just the rather plain, cardboard sidekick of Meriwether Lewis that he has come to seem," Trogdon said. "I think maybe he encouraged that simplified view of himself later in life but, oh no, he was a complex individual."

Trogdon discussed the book with St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Tuesday. She will also be talking at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 25 at St. Louis County Library Headquarters.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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