Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: December 12, 2003
ISBN: 0-06-091111-8
Awards: ALA Notable Book, Golden Kite Award for Nonfiction, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
Format Reviewed: Hardcover
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Genre: Children’s – Nonfiction – United States History – Lewis and Clark/People of Color
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Kristin Johnson
Reviewer Notes:  Reviewer, Kristin Johnson just released her second book, CHRISTMAS COOKIES ARE FOR GIVING, co-written with Mimi Cummins, in October 2003. Her third book, ORDINARY MIRACLES: My Incredible Spiritual, Artistic and Scientific Journey, co-written with Sir Rupert A.L. Perrin, M.D., is now available from PublishAmerica.

York’s Adventures with Lewis and Clark
An African-American’s Part in the Great Expedition
By Rhoda Blumberg

Everyone knows the story of Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea. But as Paul Harvey says, “In a minute you’ll hear the rrrest of the story.”

During the Lewis and Clark bicentennial (2003-2006), it’s worth celebrating the accomplishments of William Clark and Meriwether Lewis. It’s also high time that America recognizes their accidental hero, a slave named York, who, poignantly enough, played with Clark as boys when race is never an issue (hating girls however is) but became Clark’s “personal body servant” when Clark was fourteen and York only a year or two younger. It’s a moment in Black history and American history that has only now emerged.

Rhoda Blumberg’s YORK’S ADVENTURES WITH LEWIS AND CLARK: An African-American’s Part in the Great Expedition, cries out for an Oprah spotlight. Blumberg painstakingly and faithfully recreates how York worked, starved, sweated, suffered, and trailblazed alongside Lewis, Clark, Sacagawea (one of several slaves married to one of the expedition’s interpreters, rough-and-tumble Toussaint Charbonneau), and the rest of the crew.

Without minimizing the heroism or the larger-than-life characters of Lewis and Clark, Blumberg skillfully illustrates their indifference to women and minorities, especially slaves, in their neglect of York (who wasn’t paid for his labor and was separated from his wife for years only to be parted again from her after his long journey—slave marriages were not honored by owners) and Sacagawea, who Lewis did not take with him when scouting ahead to find the Shoshonis from whom she had been kidnapped. Without the Shoshonis’ assistance with guiding and horses, the Lewis and Clark expedition would surely have failed, even with York’s able assistance. Blumberg, however, illustrates how York’s color impressed the Native Americans, who saw him as powerful and “good medicine.” Ultimately, however, Blumberg leaves us with the sad knowledge that York, who grew through his remarkable freedom, died scorned by Lewis (how are you going to keep them in the massa’s house once they’ve seen the Missouri River?), unappreciated for his efforts, popular legends of the time aside.

Abigail Adams advised her husband John to “remember the ladies please.” Let’s remember the Yorks, too.