Or Perish in the Attempt


Or Perish in the Attempt

The Hardship and Medicine of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

David J. Peck
Foreword by Moira Ambrose
Illustrations by R. F. "Bob" Morgan

360 pages
40 illustrations, 1 map, 2 appendixes


June 2011


$23.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

David J. Peck’s Or Perish in the Attempt ingeniously combines the remarkable adventures of Lewis and Clark with an examination of the health problems their expedition faced. Formidable problems indeed, but the author patiently, expertly—and humorously—guides us through the medical travails of the famous journey, juxtaposing treatment then against remedy now. The result is a fascinating book that sheds new light not only on Lewis and Clark and the men and one remarkable woman (and her infant) who accompanied them along an eight-thousand-mile wilderness path but also on the practice of medicine in their time and place.

Author Bio

David J. Peck is a retired physician and a popular, nationally recognized speaker on the medical aspects of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He and his wife live in San Diego. Dr Peck can be contacted through his website @ lewisandclarkmedicine.com
Moira Ambrose (1939–2009) wrote more than thirty books with her husband, Steven E. Ambrose, including several bestsellers. R. F. “Bob” Morgan is a Montana artist and cofounder of the Western Rendezvous of Art, which brings collectors and artists from around the country to Helena, Montana. 


“Altogether revealing, instructive, and entertaining.”—Dave Walter, research historian, Montana Historical Society

“Dr. Peck’s book is significant not only for the new medical information it brings to light but because it is one of the most readable and entertaining of the books about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. When asked which of the many books someone should read about the Expedition—or give as a gift—I recommend Or Perish in the Attempt.”—Carol A. Bronson, former executive director, Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Inc.

“The strength of Dr. Peck’s book is its delightful readability. . . . A splendid narrative that binds the reader.”—Frank Iber, MD, Journal of the American Medical Association

"David Peck has brought a transfusion of new energy to Lewis and Clark scholarship. Everyone who reads his excellent and witty book on the medical aspects of Lewis and Clark will gain a new appreciation for the almost unbelievable stamina of the men--and one very remarkable woman--of the Lewis and Clark Expedition."--Clay S. Jenkinson, scholar-in-residence, Lewis and Clark College

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 - Politics and Passion: The Exploration of the American Wilderness
Chapter 2 - Meriwether Lewis and William Clark: The Right Stuff of 1803
Chapter 3 - Just Doing the Best We Can: Development of American Medicine 1620-1803
Chapter 4 - Into the Starting Blocks: The Expedition Prepares
Chapter 5 - Misqutrs on the Ohio: The Trip Gets Underway
Chapter 6 - Snakes in the Grass & Bugs in the River: Rattlers and Diarrhea on the Missouri
Chapter 7 - The Sun and Dying Young: A Lucky Streak Ends
Chapter 8 - They Should Have Danced All Night: "Louis Veneri" Joins the Corps
Chapter 9 - Cold Toes and a Baby Boy: Winter with the Mandans
Chapter 10 - Wild Times in Old Montana: Act One: May-June 1805
Chapter 11 - Wild Times in Old Montana: Act Two: May-July 1805
Chapter 12 - From a Torrent to a Trickle: To the Headwaters of the Missouri
Chapter 13 - No Place for Mockersins: Over the Bitterroots
Chapter 14 - A Winter of Pore Elk and Flees: The Pacific 1805-1806
Chapter 15 - A Clash of Cultures: March-April 1806
Chapter 16 - Frontier Doctor and Medical Diplomats: Great Challenges in Idaho
Chapter 17 - Wild Times in Old Montana: Act Three: June-August 1806
Chapter 18 - Near Disaster and Then . . . : Back Home: August and September 1806
Chapter 19 - Ghosts of Explorations Past: Fates of the Corps of Discovery
Chapter 20 - Fiddles and Friendships: The Sinews of Success
Appendix One - Riddles of Nature: The World's Medical Expedition
Appendix Two - Medicines of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Helpful Pharmacy Terms, Lewis & Clark's Medicine Chest, Instruments and Other Supplies

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