William Clark and the Shaping of the West

Landon Y. Jones

Hill and Wang

Between 1803 and 1806, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark co-captained the most famous expedition in American history. But while Lewis ended his life just three years later, Clark, as the highest-ranking Federal official in the West, spent three decades overseeing its consequences: Indian removal and the destruction of Native America. In a rare combination of storytelling and scholarship, best-selling author Landon Y. Jones presents for the first time Clark's remarkable life and influential career in their full complexity.

Like every colonial family living on Virginia's violent frontier, the Clarks killed Indians and acquired land; acting on behalf of the United States, William would prove successful at both. Clark's life was spent fighting in America's fifty-year running war with the Indians (and their European allies) over the Western borderlands. The struggle began with his famed brother George Roger's western campaigns during the American Revolution, continued through the vicious battles of the War of 1812, and ended with the Black Hawk War in the 1830s. In vividly depicting Clark's life, Jones memorably captures not only the dark and bloody ground of America's early West, but also the qualities of character and courage that made him an unequalled leader in America's grander enterprise: the shaping of the West. No one played a larger part in that accomplishment than William Clark.

William Clark and the Shaping of the West is an unforgettable human story that encompasses in a single life the sweep of American history from colonial Virginia to the conquest of the West.


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William Clark and the Shaping of the West
The first people known to live in the Piedmont plateau of Virginia were the Monacans. They were a Siouan-speaking people who, with the Mannahoac tribe, dominated an area that extended north from the Roanoke River valley to the Potomac, and from the fall line, or head of navigation, at Richmond and Fredericksburg to the Blue Ridge Mountains on the west. These agricultural tribes had lived in the Piedmont for three hundred years, but in 1722 their rich lands had been opened to white settlers


Praise for William Clark and the Shaping of the West

"This is a triumph of both research and storytelling. The endeavors of the amazing William Clark are fascinating, and they help us understand the opening of the west and the expansion of America. By recounting both his famous explorations and his more controversial work resettling native Americans, Lanny Jones helps us make vivid and personal the conflicts that are integral to our history." --Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

"A fascinating, richly textured tale of a brave and complicated man. Landon Jones has brought to life a violent, morally complex time--when the frontier was St. Louis and diplomats and statesmen needed to be warriors and explorers." --Evan Thomas, author of John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy

"At last a full length comprehensive study of the life of one of America's most overlooked heroes. Landon Jones has given us a map of William Clark's life, showing us the points where he was a man of his time and the moments he was far ahead of it. He directs us to Clark's involvement in the sad episode that was the removal of the Native American Indian, spanning from its naive beginnings to the bitterly cruel end. Jones presents William Clark warts and all; we see that for all his apparent contradictions, Clark remained always a man true to himself." --Stephenie Ambrose Tubbs, co-author, The Lewis and Clark Companion

"With Landon Jones' superb biography of William Clark we have at last a full treatment of this distinguished American, written with sparkle and insight. The wait is over." --Gary E. Moulton, editor, The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Landon Y. Jones

  • Landon Jones was managing editor at People magazine for eight years and wrote and edited for Life, Time, Money, and People for thirty-seven years; and is currently vice president of the National Council of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. His books include Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom and The Essential Lewis and Clark. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.





    Available Formats and Book Details

    William Clark and the Shaping of the West

    Landon Y. Jones

    • e-Book