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"Growing up in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, Jedediah Smith (1799-1831) learned to hunt and handle boats at an early age, and he was deeply fascinated by Native American lore and the travels of Lewis and Clark. When he arrived in St. Louis in 1822, Smith was prepared to join a beaver-trapping expedition up the Missouri River. That set him on the road to a remarkable series of adventures as he worked his way into territory previously unseen by any white man: hunting and trapping, wintering in rough camps far from any settlement, getting to know, and often fighting, the many Indigenous peoples who lived in the West. Smith’s skills and character—unlike other mountain men, he was pious and sober in his lifestyle—made him a natural choice for leading trapping companies. He and other American explorers faced opposition from the Mexican government in California and from the Hudson’s Bay Company in Canada, both of which had a strong prior claim on territory that eventually became U.S. states on the West Coast. Clavin and Drury, co-authors of Blood and Treasure, embellish Smith’s story, largely based on his own journals, with a wealth of material covering all aspects of the history, geography, and the many colorful characters who led the way into the wilderness. Smith died leading one final expedition, but not before he had left a significant mark on American history. 'When Smith took his first, tentative steps into the unknown,' write the authors, 'the interior of the North American continent was a blank slate for most if not all of his countrymen.' A lively account of the remarkable life of one of the men who led the U.S. into the vast West."​
—Kirkus Reviews


“When Jedediah Smith arrived in St. Louis in 1822 to seek his fortune, the West was perceived to be nearly a blank slate by whites. But by his early demise in 1831, the pious Easterner had filled in much of the map while trapping beaver across plains, mountains, and deserts to the Pacific Ocean. Journalists and writers of popular nonfiction Drury and Clavin join forces again, following The Last Hill (2022), to recount the saga of Smith and his companions who learned the ways of the land and forged the trail for Manifest Destiny for the young U.S. Knowledge of the West was won with great loss and hardship; many mountain men never returned from their expeditions. The trappers faced great peril on snow-capped peaks, sun-baked deserts, and fast-flowing rivers, facing immense bears and other predators and encountering an intricate network of Indigenous tribes and their complex interactions, who integrated the pale-faced strangers into their trading, raiding, and fighting. Drury and Clavin bring adventure and danger to life in this excellent narrative history of a largely forgotten chapter in the American story."


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