The True Account: A Novel of the Lewis & Clark & Kinneson Expeditions

Written by Howard Frank Mosher
Review by Lisa Ann Verge

Private True Teague Kinneson, knocked on the head during the battle of Ticonderoga while drinking a rum flip, has since developed what his sister-in-law calls “little ways and stays.” He fascinates his nephew, Ti, with daily adventures through the Vermont wilderness, on whose ponds and in whose forests they retake the Heights of Quebec with General Wolfe; route the Redcoats from Yorktown; or sail the South Seas with Captain Cook. Hearing of a proposed expedition through the lands of the Louisiana Purchase, True dons a chain-mail vest and a copper helmet and sets off for Washington to offer himself as the expedition’s leader.
Ti, the twelve-year-old narrator of this wild frolic of a novel, follows his uncle to Monticello. Rebuffed by President Jefferson, they head west nonetheless, staying just a few miles ahead of those upstarts Lewis and Clark. Through clever ruses and crazy-like-a-fox intelligence, True jigs himself out of all kinds of trouble – with backwoods ruffians, Blackfeet Indians, grizzly bears, hunger, and the Bitterroot Mountains – thus mirroring the travails of the official expedition. True also becomes the Johnny Appleseed of hemp, a plant he extols for its “calming qualities.”
The True Account is a riotous, whimsical tour of the famous expedition of 1804. In Private True Kinneson, Howard Frank Mosher has created a most imaginative character – an irreverent Don Quixote of the Old West.