The Daily Dose/January 14, 2017
By Gaylon Kent
America’s Funniest Guy
Capsule Book Review: Or Perish In The Attempt: Wilderness Medicine in the Lewis and Clark Expedition By Dr David Peck: Regular readers of this crap will recall we recently reviewed the fine book Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West by Stephen Ambrose. By chance, Or Perish in the Attempt was lying around the house, too, and we eagerly dove into it.
These two books represent our first extensive reading on the Corps of Discovery. In fact, our ignorance of the Lewis and Clark was such we didn’t even know they were known as the Corps of Discovery until recently.
If you aren’t very familiar with Lewis and Clark, and you have even a passing interest in history, go, become familiar with it. Along with Apollo 11, it might well be the greatest adventure any American has embarked on.
Each book covers the same ground, but each from a different aspect. Undaunted Courage is more or less a biography of Lewis and his relationship with Jefferson. Or Perish in the Attempt looks at the Expedition from a medical perspective. Peck, a practicing physician and a Lewis and Clark fan, is well-suited for the work.
Dry, Technical Matter: There wasn’t much for either Lewis and Clark, the Corps medical officers, to go on. Both were, or had been, Army officers so they had had some in-the-field training, and both were veterans of getting on in the wilderness, so they knew how to set broken bones and whatnot, and Lewis spent some quality time with America’s foremost physician, Dr Benjamin Rush, before the expedition. but neither Lewis nor Clark really knew squat about how the human body operates when they pulled out of St Louis for the Pacific Ocean on May 14, 1803.
As Peck brilliantly put it, Lewis and Clark had some rather useless medicines, some half-baked theories and large amounts of good common sense, the latter ending up being their most useful tool. Throughout the expedition, they had to deal with broken bones, snake bites, separated joints, colds, flu, frostbite stomach pains, the clap – the Indians first export to America – and everything else you would expect three dozen men, a woman, a baby and a dog left to fend for themselves in the wilderness to suffer.
Can We Put This In Gaylon Terms?: Peck knows not everyone in his audience is a doctor, too, so he puts every ailment and attempted cure in layman’s terms, without talking down to halfwits like us. He discusses why a Dr Lewis or Dr Clark cure did or did not work, and what current treatments might be, When the expedition’s journals weren’t clear on what the ailment was, Peck does a good job offering possibilities.
Oh Yeah: Peck ends his book by detailing the history of medicine up till 1803, showing the foundation Lewis and Clark had to work from.
LOL: What’s funny was that despite the deprivation and dangers, and despite having zero knowledge of bacteria, viruses or even how their internal organs worked and not really knowing what they were doing, only one person died, one Sgt Floyd, early in the expedition, of appendicitis.
The Bottom Line: One hell of a book, highly recommended for everyone from casual fans history to Lewis and Clark aficionados. The deprivation and they endured and they daily labors involved in their mission are something most of us can’t relate to and I was left with the impression that unless the Corps of Discovery was in vital need of a lazy, whining writer, we probably would’ve been summarily executed on Day 2.
“…THAT THE SAID DEFINITIVE TREATY BE, AND THE SAME IS HEREBY RATIFIED BY THE UNITED STATES IN CONGRESS ASSEMBLED…”: The Revolutionary War comes a step closer to officially ending on this date in 1784 when the Confederation Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris, which the United States and Great Britain had signed in September 1983.
FunFact: Great Britain would ratify the treaty in April, and copies of the ratified treaties would be exchanged in May. The war would not eventually end until later in May when Britain officially ended hostilities with, of all people, the Dutch, who had been dragged into the war because of their support of the French and the Americans.
Up…Up…And Away: President Franklin Roosevelt becomes the first president to travel by airplane on this date in 1943, flying from Miami to Morocco to meet with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Today In Today Show History: The Today show debuts on this date in 1952, with Dave Garroway as hosts. It is still on the air, and at 64-years is the fifth longest TV show in American history.
Thought For The Day: When science clearly contradicts Buddhist beliefs, and it is proven, then we must reject the earlier beliefs. We will accept the evidence of science…The Buddha himself made it clear that the final decision for every person must come through investigation, not by relying solely on religious texts. The Buddha gave us each that freedom. – The Fourteenth Dalai Lama
Answer To The Last Trivia Question: In the 2016 election, 97 percent of US House incumbents were reelected, as were 90 percent of US Senate incumbents were reelected.
Today’s Stumper: What is the longest-running show on US television? – Answer next time!