Champlain's Dream

Champlain's Dream

by David Hackett Fischer
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Champlain's Dream 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
DavidS-Albuquerque More than 1 year ago
Dr. Fischer has used past and recent historical evidence coupled with ethnographic, economic, political, and archaeological data to weave a wonderful account of Samuel Champlain and the early French efforts of colonizing North America. Previous to this effort, the most popular account of Champlain was Samuel E. Morison's book written almost a half century ago. While Morison's book was very good, Fischer's effort not only relates the geographic ventures but delves into the psyche of Champlain the man.

No stone is left unturned and although Fischer has his own opinions he goes out of his way to present alternative viewpoints. His book draws on numerous sources and is complemented by outstanding maps, plates, charts, etc. The bibliography is is very extensive, there are copious notes and in addition, the appendix covers various tribes, personalities, ships, and weapons pertinent to the epic.

Dr. Fischer delivers a first rate look at Champlain's beginning, the area and circumstances surrounding his actions and thoughts. In the book Champlain is presented as a determined, unselfish, loyal, modest, and wise individual totally dedicated to establishing a colony for France in the the New World. He succeeds only after 30 years of struggle and hardships all of which he endured for no personal gain but for the glory of France. He does all this treating the native populations with respect and dignity. They were his partners not his subjects thus the French settlements were entirely different from their English and Spanish counterparts.

From beginning to end, Fischer's Champlain is a book packed with adventure, discovery, intrigue, ethnography, failures, and finally success. Whether Chapmplain is plotting the coasts, establishing settlements, at war, or just plain exploring, the reader will feel like he/she is there. In short, although its a biography/history it reads like a novel. One will find it quite difficult to stop turning the pages.

I should also mention that the publishers did an outstanding job in the production of the book itself. There are excellent end paper maps, the binding is solid and will not tend to disengage after a couple of readings, and the dust jacket is bright and lively. Furthermore, Simon & Shuster are to be commended for allowing Dr. Fischer to include all his notes etc, since the trend in publishing is to eliminate most data that are not pertinent to the story and put out what I consider to be an incomplete product.

All in all, I cannot think of another book that has all these attributes and I highly recommend this book to both the general reader and to those of a more scholarly interest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I never really knew about this subject. It is amazing how successful Champlain was. This reads more like a novel than nonfiction history book
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anonymously More than 1 year ago
great history
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Literaryarky More than 1 year ago
I consider the author, David Fischer, to be America's best writer of non-fiction. He does not disappoint here though this work is not quite the equal of "Washington's Crossing", Fischer's Pulitzer Prize winner. Champlain's life and times are fascinating. We are treated to a long introduction about one of Europe's most able rulers, King Henry IV. Henry IV used religious tolerance to unify France. One of the pleasures of this work is getting to know Henry IV. To a certain extent Champlain was mentored by the king and clearly influenced by his ideas of tolerance. We see a young Champlain disgusted by Spain's cruelty to the natives in Mexico. In a unique opportunity to visit the Spanish colonies, he determines to treat the natives as equals. The stories of Champlain's relationship with native tribes in New France are fascinating. He is a skilled explorer, carefully mapping unchartered waters. He is an able, if reluctant, fighter against the enemies of friendly native tribes. These are exciting stories. Despite his leadership, New France barely holds on by a thread. When Henry IV is assassinated by a religious zealot, the surviving Queen shows little interest in New France. Perhaps Champlain's greatest accomplishment is keeping French interest in the new world alive after Henry IV's death. To do this he must be in France to deal with the court intrigue. Throughout it all he perseveres to keep the dream of New France alive. His life is full of exciting adventures and dreams ultimately followed in the end by sadness. Do not be put off by the over 800 pages in this work. Over 300 of them are appendixes and footnotes. Highly recommended.
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This book combines superior scholarship with an easy-read style. It flows very logically, is well-organized, and is objective. Typically, we Americans have very limited information about our neighbors to the north. There is no longer an excuse. If there was only one book to read about Canada, it should be this. The foot notes and appendices recognize all the scholarly thought surrounding this subject for the last four hundred years. The format helps those who want to further study Champlain and Canada's heritage. The work more than satisfied my curiosity especially in describing Canada and France in Champlain's lifetime. An excellent point is made that Champlain was a product of a remarkable up-bringing in a very unique part of France. Once again we have an example that we are the product of our roots and experience. The author was convincing in arguing that Champlain lived to make his dream come true of a New France. This book is for the ages or at least as long as man dreams for a better world and does something about it.
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BirdieOH More than 1 year ago
Anyone who likes history would love this book. There is history within history. I have learned a lot about King Henri IV of France. I expected reading about the indian tribes of North America and his journey. I was happy to learn more what was going on at Europe at the time. It is all interesting, never dry and easy to read. I enjoyed seeing Champlain's drawings and maps. He was an amazing artist.
old_wiz More than 1 year ago
I found it very interesting to see the contrast between French and English in the colonization of North America. I also have "Empires of the Atlantic World" by J.H. Elliott and you see three separate approaches: The French tried to get along, The English tried to get rid of the natives, and the Spanish enslaved them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book due to my interest in the history of the Great Lakes area. I found it to be much more than a history of the northern US and Canada. Champlain's Dream is multifaceted. It is simultaneously a biography of Champlain, a book on leadership, a history of France and North America, as well as an adventure story. There are many stories told within the story of Champlain's Dream, such as Champlain's struggles with the King's court in France to keep his dreams alive for New France; the race to stay ahead of the British in the St. Lawrence River area; and Champlain's relationship with many Indian nations that he sought to live with in harmony...and would go to war with them to do so. This is a great book and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Champlain, the history of North America, or would just like to read a good adventure story set in the 1600s.
ScottB09 More than 1 year ago
Perhaps the NY Times best captured the essence of David Fischer's book about Samuel de Champlain by observing "They Didn't Name That Lake [after him] for Nothing." Fischer a trained historian and professor at Brandeis University, argues that Samuel de Champlain was at heart a man of the Enlightenment, before that era dawned in Europe. Champlain was a writer, artist, natualist, ethnographer, mariner, and professional soldier. Fischer maintains that Champlain was as success at Versailles in maintaining royal support for the nascent French colony in North America, as he was in establishing its settlements and probing its seemingly limitless boundaries. Importantly, Fischer credits Champlain's respect for and cooperation with American-Indians, as his greatest accomplishment. Unlike the English, Spanish, and Portugese colonizers to the south who brutalized and butchered the natives, Champlain and the French were much more magnaminious toward the native peoples. Even though Champlain's dream turned to nightmare with the defeat of Montcalm by Wolfe at Quebec in 1759, among his descendants it lived on to become vindicated in a modern tolerant Quebec.