Well, I seem to be just about caught up with what's happening in the world. Took me a while because I'm completely engrossed in Stephen Ambrose's book on the Lewis and Clark expedition Undaunted Courage. Terrific read- and I'm sufficiently hooked to delve deeper into this topic. If you're not familiar with this epic voyage of discovery then this book is a great primer.
What I'm really searching for at the moment however are books on the early colonial period of North America. I want to know more about the continent when it was first discovered. Unfortunately the American history section at my local Waterstones is pretty appalling- there's nothing at all about the first settlers. So if you know any particularly good books on the subject be sure to let me know.
On a vaguely related note, it's given me much to think about in regard to Kim du Toit's Crossing the Wilderness thought-exercise. The L&C group made the journey with .54 calibre rifles- there was sufficient game around for them to not need small-bore weapons specifically for hunting (and given that the men were eating about 8 or 9 lbs of meat every day it would hardly have been practical). In addition to hunting buffalo, they seem to have come across quite a few grizzly bears and a goodly number of Indians. So the prime purpose of having firearms for the crossing would seem to be big game and fending off potentially hostile Natives. Given that it's also a solo crossing I don't think that a bolt action rifle would be of much use- I'm tending more and more towards the idea that a Garand would be pretty much the ideal weapon. A .30-06 with premium bullets for hunting in a tough, battle-proven action just in case defensive fire is needed against a raiding party.
The next question of course is what route to take across 17th century North America? What kit do I take? Which boots are going to stand up to the journey?