The journals of Prince Maximilian of Wied rank among the most important firsthand sources documenting the early-nineteenth-century American West. Published in their entirety as an annotated three-volume set, the journals present a complete narrative of Maximilian's expedition across the United States, from Boston almost to the headwaters of the Missouri in the Rocky Mountains, and back. This new, concise edition, the only modern condensed version of Maximilian's full account, highlights the expedition's most significant encounters and dramatic events.
The German prince and his party arrived in Boston on July 4, 1832. He intended to explore "the natural face of North America", observing and recording firsthand the flora, fauna, and especially the Native peoples of the interior. Accompanying him was the young Swiss artist Karl Bodmer, who would document the journey with sketches and watercolours. Together, the group travelled across the eastern United States and up the Missouri River into present-day Montana, spending the winter of 1833–34 at Fort Clark, an important fur-trading post near the Mandan and Hidatsa villages in what is now North Dakota. The expedition returned downriver to St. Louis the following spring, having spent more than a year in the Upper Missouri frontier wilderness.
The two explorers experienced the American frontier just before its transformation by settlers, miners, and industry. Featuring nearly fifty colour and black-and-white illustrations – including several of Karl Bodmer's best landscapes and portraits – this succinct record of their expedition invites new audiences to experience an enthralling journey across the early American West.
"Now, for the first time, we have an authoritative concise edition of Prince Maximilian's firsthand descriptions of the land and the people of the upper Missouri River at a time of transition."
– Ron Tyler, former director, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas
"Reducing a complete and complex edition of a writer's extensive travel journal to an accessible size is both a formidable task and a necessary labor. Marsha Gallagher, editor of this abridgment, brings a deep knowledge of and long association with the journals of Prince Maximilian. Add to this her skill in scaling three hefty volumes to a manageable one, and we have the best of the prince's writing available for a wide audience. It's a landmark contribution to published travel journals of the American West."
– Gary E. Moulton, editor of The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and The Definitive Journals of Lewis and Clark