Monday, January 10, 2011

What I am Reading this Week: Ghost Empire by Philip Marchand

Ghost Empire: How the French almost Conquered North America by Philip Marchand . 2005

I love this book which is primarily about LaSalle, the French explorer who claimed lands in the Mississippi River Valley for France.  However, if I didn't have some background knowledge about early France in North America, I think I would be totally flummoxed. Marchand discusses so many topics in his book that directly impacted the French empire, Quebecois culture and FrancoAmericans from Francis Parkman historian, Gothic architecture, the printing press, literature of defeated people, discipline of Catholic nuns, Pontiac's Rebellion, Loup Garou, birchbark canoes, coureurs de bois, John Jacob Astor and the American Fur Trade Company, the price of civilization, waterways as trade paths, to Marxism and more. Surely, this is a whirlwind tour down the St. Lawrence, Great Lakes, Illinois River to Mississippi, to the Gulf of Mexico so you can see how dizzy I became after page two!  Despite the lighthearted heavy handedness, my heart ached with recognition of every emotion Marchand described as he followed through his own and other's French heritage.  It is great to read this but if you do not know some historical background, you may be perplexed and loose interest in the details or you can reach for another read about the French in North America to fill in all the blanks.

Cover of the US  Edition

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for diving into this book. It's been on my shelf for ages and I've been procrastinating. It sounds like that was a good idea based on what you say. All our history lessons look like they'll be useful in understanding this one. Let me know how it goes. This website is a wealth of info!