Wednesday, May 29, 2013

An Unexpected Letter

Over the weekend, I rearranged the library a bit, making room for a new bookcase and shifting subjects. I'm not sure why, but I picked up the book Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose, about Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Ambrose was a pretty famous history writer and very well respected. Among other things, he wrote Band of Brothers, on which the TV show of the same name was based.

While reading the dust jacket, I flipped to the back cover and found some newspaper articles about him.

There was also a letter from UW-Madison geology professor Robert H. Dott, Jr., written to Ambrose in 1996 to ask whether the Lewis and Clark expedition had tents, having spent many cold, wet nights camping himself.

... And there was a reply from Ambrose (a UW history professor at the time), saying that they had buffalo hide tepees on the journey there, but slept "a la the geologists" on the trip back.

As far as I can tell, it's a totally authentic letter. The paper is watermarked, and does not look like a copy.

This is one of the best things about used books. We picked this one up from one of the Friends of the Memorial Library book sales, but I'm sure Professor Dott wouldn't have intentionally given this letter away.

I think I'll see if he wants it back.

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