Summary and book reviews of Museum of Human Beings by Colin Sargent

Museum of Human Beings

by Colin Sargent

Museum of Human Beings
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  • First Published:
    Dec 2008, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2009, 352 pages

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Book Summary

A Shoshone woman, Sacagawea, leads Lewis and Clark to the Pacific at the turn of the 19th century. On her back is her infant son, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, the youngest member of the Expedition - a child caught between two worlds.

A Shoshone woman, Sacagawea, leads Lewis and Clark to the Pacific at the turn of the 19th century. On her back is a tiny infant. He is her son, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, the youngest member of the Expedition--a child caught between two worlds who is later raised by Clark as his foster son.

When the teenaged Baptiste attracts the notice of the visiting Duke Paul, Prince of Württemberg, Clark approves of the duke's "experiment" to educate the boy at court. A gleeful Duke Paul has Baptiste trained as a concert pianist and exhibits him thoughout Europe as a "half gentleman-half animal."

Eventually Baptiste turns his back on the Old World and returns to the New, determined to find his true place there. He travels into the heart of the American wilderness, and into the depths of his mother's soul, on an epic quest for identity that brings sacrifice, loss, and the distant promise of redemption.

1

"ARRIVE"

- hold your left hand ahead of you, fingers together, right hand against your chest. Strike your left palm with the edge of your right.



Christmas Eve, 1805

Sleet pierced the air like volleys of arrows. Having already eaten their horses and with packs nearly slack, the party looked like Romani in their rags as they stumbled up the crooked mountain trail. The little one, strapped to his mother's back, nestled his head into the curve of her neck. Needles of ice stung his cheeks, and the salty tang of the yet-unseen ocean that his mother called Paakate tickled his nose.

But Baptiste was not to giggle or cry, his mother, Sacagawea, whispered. He was to keep silent, be invisible - a lucky, if forgettable, witness to the great expedition to the Pacific.

He squeezed his eyes shut to hold his tears. The ground began to shake with the drum of approaching hooves. Suddenly his mother stopped short, and Baptiste opened one eye to see Captain William Clark ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Maine Sunday Telegram

One of the most satisfying works of fiction that I have read in years . . . Sargent sends the youthful Baptiste on a multi-leveled grand tour of discovery that never lets up or disappoints.

Denver Post

Strongly reflecting the author's ability as a playwright and poet, [this book] is rich with unusual historical detail. . . . It is a fascinating and ultimately tragic tale of a usually forgotten player in this country's story.

Publishers Weekly

With historical cameos ...and an impressively rounded portrait of the laid-back, introspective, nomadic Baptiste, this novel will satisfy fans of American history.

Library Journal

This memorable novel will captivate all who read it.

Reader Reviews

John Michael Cummings, author of The Night I Freed John Brown

A Wonderful Work of Fiction--Rooted in America’s Legendary Past
In Museum of Human Beings, author Colin Sargent focuses on the life of a relatively little known character associated with one of the most famous American sagas —the Lewis and Clark expedition—spinning a wondrous tale spanning more than six decades. ...   Read More

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