William Clark and the Shaping of the West

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2004; University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 2009)


Between 1803 and 1806, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark cocaptained the most famous expedition in American history. But while Lewis ended his life just three years after the expedition, 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, bestselling author Landon Y. Jones vividly depicts Clark’s life and the dark and bloody ground of America’s early West, capturing the qualities of character and courage that made Clark an unequaled leader in America’s grander enterprise: the shaping of the West.



U.S.1 Princeton Info, “Summer Reading: Lanny Jones’ Biography of William Clark,” review by Richard K. Rein, September 29, 2009
(pdf copy)

Smithsonian Magazine, “William Clark and the Shaping of the West,” April 2005
(pdf copy)



Brooksy names ‘William Clark and the Shaping of the West’ to  “The 10 Best Books on Lewis and Clark,” February 8, 2023



William Clark’s remarkable life story is told with color, panache and authority.”

— Los Angeles Times Book Review

A deeply researched, splendidly written biography.”

— Owen Edwards, Smithsonian Magazine 

[A] sweeping, battle-strewn bio.”

— Men’s Journal

Jones’ masterful biography brings to life the gritty and brutal existence of life on the American frontier.”

— Kevin J. Hamilton, Seattle Times

It was Clark, not Lewis, who nursed Sacagawea when she will ill and who later paid for her son’s education. It was Clark who wrote the misspelled entry –‘Ocian in view! O! The Joy!’ — that so charmingly evokes the moment when their party finally sighted the Pacific. And it was Clark who led the more interesting life, as Landon Y. Jones makes clear.”

— Mark Lewis, Washington Post