Journey of York @HasanDavis

There are few stories more well known in United States history than that of the Lewis and Clark expedition from St. Louis to the farthest reaches of the continent, what would become known as Oregon/Washington. The pair of explorers took with them 23 crewmen, most were former military men with whom they had served; all but one were volunteers: York, the African slave whom Clark had inherited from his father’s estate. However, aside from the Shoshone woman, Sacagawea, and her “husband” Toussaint Charbanneau, no one was more valuable to the success of the exploration than the man known as York. Yet, for nearly two centuries York’s story and vital contributions have remained largely untold – until now.

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To say that I am an avid devotee of the Lewis and Clark expedition is an understatement – and even that statement doesn’t do justice to my obsession. While my university degree is in history (and US politics,) my area of specialty is the Jefferson/Jacksonian period primarily because I simply could not get enough information about Lewis and Clark and their westward adventure. I wanted to know what they found, the native Americans they met, how they survived the winters, about their longboats. Yes, I’ve even retraced the Lewis and Clark trail from beginning to end and back again. I’ve toured Fort Clatsop, visited burial sites, read their journals and far, far more. What always has fascinated me, however, was how much this pair relied on York, how much they wrote about him and then how quickly his importance vanished. They used his skin color to fascinate native Americans who never had seen any human with that skin color. They thought he was a “medicine man” or “magic.” He opened doors for the explorers and saved their lives on more than one occasion. His brute strength enabled them to carry more boats over dry riverbeds and to build their fort before the winter cold could kill them. He even became – literally – the first African American to vote on American soil when the party had to decide which side of the Columbia river to set up their fort. It was groundbreaking. And yet, once the explorers returned back home – no mention of his bravery, heroics, saving strength or equality was mentioned again. It was during a time in American history when already a division was growing among the states over the slavery issue and giving York credit simply was not done. Shame on everyone involved and KUDOS to Hasan Davis for finally telling this hero’s story!!

The book is written for young readers and is very simplistic in its telling. Think back to the history books of your childhood and this book is written similarly. I would have liked for the illustrations to have been more imaginative in order to capture the attention of graphic savvy young readers, but the story itself is well told, doesn’t stray from historic fact and isn’t too heavy handed when it comes to finger pointing – which it could have done. I think this is an absolute must read for all young American readers, for teachers of young students, parents, and perhaps even adults who are clueless regarding the real heroes of the expedition. I love Lewis and Clark but I know, without a doubt, where the credit for their expedition’s success truly lies.

Thank you to #Netgalley, @CapstonePub and #HasanDavis for fulfilling all of my wishes for the new year by allowing me to read York’s story and especially to Mr. Davis for bringing York’s story to life at last!

For additional reading on the Lewis and Clark expedition, I highly recommend a historical fiction book by Anna L. Waldo titled “Sacajawea.” I have read it five times over the past 30+ years and will read it again this year. It never gets old. Fiction yes, but a beautiful, captivating story never-the-less.

 

 

19 thoughts on “Journey of York @HasanDavis

  1. Absolutely fantastic review. You had me interested in this book from one of your comments, and now I’m definitely going to give it a read. And the Waldo title sounds perfect for the historical fiction challenge. Your excitement for the Lewis and Clark expedition is palpable! Love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • On Kindle, this was all of 40 pages so it is a super quick read for us adults. 😉 But it is so worth the read and, of course, I’ve purchased the hard copy for my library here at the Inn. It’s fantastic!

      The Waldo version of Sacajawea (her spelling, not mine) is masterfully written and thoroughly researched. It was originally given to me by a retired history professor and I have been passing on copies of it to readers that I thought would like it ever since. It’s breathtaking! But be warned – it is an epic read! She makes Ken Follett look like a children’s book author – I kid you not. I hope you give it a go, though. Let me know!! And Happy New Year!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • A library in an inn? That sounds like the dream right there.

        Oh, you’ve really sold me on this one! I love a good epic read as it is, but if you’re speaking this highly of it, then I know I’ve got to read it. It looks like my library has a copy, so now it’s just a matter of finding the space on my reading list to slip it in … preferably sooner rather than later.

        And Happy New Year!

        Liked by 1 person

      • LOL Christopher – the Victorian that we’re restoring has a “study” with bookshelves and I’ve created a “book nook” under the back stairway. Each guest room has books in them as well that correspond with the theme of the room. I’m a little bit obsessed with books – obviously.

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  2. My two 4th graders just finished up learning about Lewis and Clark before Christmas break! I’m going to have to grab this one. Your review fascinated me and I loved reading about your studies. Thanks, Mackey! 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ohh, this would be perfect for that age! I hope they like it! York always fascinated me and the more I learn about him, the more I love him! My newest mission is to find out what happened to him after the exploration. There are so many rumors and I’d love to know if there is truth to any of them.

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    • Thank you RoseMarie!! You got goosebumps because York is just that amazing!! Someone sent me an adult biography about him that I had no idea existed and I’m beyond excited to start reading it. My family thought I had lost my mind when I got the mail and it was in there. I was dancing all through the house – LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL! Amazing! Your excitement is catching. I didn’t know any of this, and I thought I knew some history 😭 😭 . I’m going to get that biography too, I really want to know more now. Thanks so much for sharing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, you know how it is – white men write the history they want us to know and forget to tell the stories of everyone else who actually did the work. 😉 Thankfully we finally are getting the opportunity to set the story straight just 200 years after the fact.

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  3. What a wonderful review. I love that Lewis & Clark is your area of expertise. I am Canadian, but do love history and yes, did learn about Lewis & Clark in school, but not in great detail. Anytime a book can open doors and windows for children to learn about something, I am all for it. Good Non-Fiction books need to be promoted. (This is the former teacher-librarian in me talking). I am going to see if I can still get this one to read. Thanks for sharing such a great book Mac.

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    • Thank you so much!! You know what I find amazing is that people from the US don’t study more Canadian history. I actually took a course at university in Canadian history and it was so dry – the professor’s fault – that I don’t remember a thing, plus it ended up being primarily about how Canada’s history related to the US!! Not what I wanted to know! I would love to learn more about Canada. Hmmm.. that may be something that I need to do this year.

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  4. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts and reflections on The Journey of York! After sharing York’s story, as a one-man show, for more than 20 years with adult audiences nationally, I am so excited to finally have it in a format that young audiences can engage with and enjoy as well. I appreciate the depth of your knowledge of the expedition and your validation of York’s presence and unique contributions. I hope your subscribers enjoy reading this book as much as I have enjoyed telling his story.
    all my best,
    Hasan
    #DiscoverYork #HisStoryIsHistory

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mr. Davis- the appreciation is all mine for your giving a voice to York in a way that readers of all ages can appreciate. It past time for his story to be well told and enjoyed. I will continue to share your book with as many people as possible. Thank you!

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  5. Pingback: Journey of York Reviewed on Macsbooks | Hasan Davis | Hope Dealer

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