In reconstructing the expedition's itineraries Goodman and Lawson relied on several sources. They had the narrative of the expedition compiled by James and published in 1823 (which also would have been available to Torrey). In addition, they consulted an unpublished diary of James (the current location of which they do not state), a recently published journal of Capt. John R. Bell, who served as "journalist" on the expedition, and original paintings by Samuel Seymour, artist on the expedition. They also consulted topographic maps and visited most of the accessible (and some of the inaccessible) campsites of the expedition. Their field work permitted them to make comparisons between watercolors by Seymour of scenes viewed by the expedition in 1820 and present-day photographic impressions of the same localities (see for example figures 10 and 11). Goodman and Lawson present the information they gathered in chronological sequence. Each chapter in the first part of their book corresponds to the expedition's route in what we now recognize as a state. Separate maps of each of the states (two for Colorado) are provided and the route of the expedition can be followed day by day. Campsites are indicated by date. Contemporary place names, including the names of counties and important physiographic features, are used on the maps. A map to orient the reader to the overall itinerary of the expedition unfortunately was not provided.
The second part of the book, "The Botany," is arranged alphabetically by family, genus, and then species. The entries are organized by what the authors determined to be the currently recognized name for a taxon, including author and bibliographic citations. This is followed by a common name, if one exists, in parentheses. In a separate paragraph the number assigned by Torrey to James' collection, if there is a number, is given along with the reference to Torrey's paper and the locality Torrey cited. Finally, in third and subsequent paragraphs, Goodman and Lawson provide commentary on the probable locality of the James collection and the taxonomy of the plant in question. The result is a much more precise understanding of where a given taxon was collected by James. This is especially helpful with respect to type localities.
Two appendices (a list of eponymous plant names and a list of the names of plant taxa based on James' collections), sources cited, and three indices are also provided by the authors. There are separate indices to scientific and common names, as well as a "General Index." This last one is essentially an index to localities cited in the text.
Retracing Major Stephen H. Long's 1820
Expedition should be
in the library of every herbarium concerned with the North American
flora. It is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in the
natural history of the Great Plains and southern Rocky Mountains.
The book, however, will not please those looking for a history
of Long's 1820 expedition. The authors are mostly silent
regarding the political motivations that pushed the expedition
forward and seriously curtailed its original design, and they
have little to say about the impact of the expedition. They do
note that it was but the fourth government sponsored expedition
into the land that the United States acquired through the Louisiana
Purchase (the first being the celebrated Lewis and Clark expedition).
A broader perspective of the Long Expedition is offered by H.
E. Evans in The Natural History of the Long Expedition to the
Rocky Mountains (1819-1820) (1997). - Laurence
J. Dorr, Department of Botany, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.