Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America

Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America

by Eric Jay Dolin


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A Seattle Times selection for one of Best Non-Fiction Books of 2010
Winner of the New England Historial Association's 2010 James P. Hanlan Award Winner of the Outdoor Writers Association of America 2011 Excellence in Craft Award, Book Division, First Place

"A compelling and well-annotated tale of greed, slaughter and geopolitics." —Los Angeles Times

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393340020
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 07/05/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 442
Sales rank: 487,700
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Eric Jay Dolin is the best-selling author of
Leviathan and Brilliant Beacons. He and his family live in Marblehead, Massachusetts, from which the pirate John Quelch departed in 1703, and returned to in 1704, only to be hanged in Boston.

Table of Contents

Introduction xv

Part I Furs Settle the New World

1 "As Fine a River as Can Be Found" 3

2 The Precious Beaver 13

3 New Amsterdam Rising 24

4 "The Bible and the Beaver" 37

Part II Clash of Empires

5 Competition, Conflict, and Chicanery 61

6 "Many Hounds Are the Hare's Death" 74

7 Adieu to the French 94

8 Americans Oust the British 117

Part III America Heads West

9 "A Perfect Golden Round of Profits" 133

10 Up the Missouri 166

11 Astoria 189

12 Mountain Men 223

13 Taos Trappers and Astor's Empire 255

14 Fall of the Beaver 279

15 The Last Robe 294

Epilogue: End of an Era 310

Notes 317

Select Bibliography 409

Acknowledgments 413

Illustration Credits 417

Index 421

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Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Bozeman-Parrothead More than 1 year ago
I have always been interested in the fur trade to the point that I have dedicated every summer retracing the steps of our leather clad heroes at the annual Mountain Man Rendezvous. Needless to say this book sparked my curiosity considering I have devoured countless books about the subject, and I must say that I was intrigued from the first page to the last. Dolin does an amazing job of retracing the fur trade from the shores of Plymouth in the 17 Century until the last rendezvous in 1841. What impressed me was how the fur trade shaped the direction of our young nation and we still see the remnants of this empire through the names of towns, cities, mountains and rivers across the country. If you enjoy American history this is a must read.
ghlibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Fur, Fortune and Empire is a fast tour of 300 years witnessing America's westward expansion and settlement. Dolin has researched the fur trades contribution to exploring the wonders of early America. His storytelling pace is powerful and engaging. Here is a readable view of history with adventure and excitement never taught in the classroom. It is a must read for all who love the wild"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A stunning insight into an overlooked force that shaped the foundation and settlement of our country. Fur... who knew it was that essential? Compelling research and attention to detail. Delightfully written and well-documented. A must for anyone interested in history or with a penchant for the forgotten realities of American history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Louine King More than 1 year ago
This is an exxcellent book for anyone---Indian/White man---who needs to know just what makes us tick as human beings in often unmapped, wild, and unspeakably beautiful continent. The beaver, the sea otter, and the American bison surrendered their lives (unwillingly) by the millions to support foreign fashions and by default toprepare the lznd itself for later settlement. I'd recommend this excellent book to any truly interested student of America.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The American historian James Truslow Adams, in answering what motivated Europeans to colonize American, writes: "The Bible and the beaver were the two mainstays of the young colony. The former saved its morale, and the latter paid its bills, and the rodent's share was a large one." How large, then, was the rodent's share? This is a question that our 2003 book Beaver-Nature History of a Wetland Engineer was unable to answer. Although we left a chronicle sketch about fur trade by focusing on the wax and wane of the mighty Hudson Bay Company (Ch. 17: Here before Christ), the significance of fur trading in the making of North America (the U.S. and Canada) has remained largely unknown to the American public. Fortunately, Eric Jay Dolin's recent book, Fur, Fortune, and Empire, brings the unjustly overlooked issue to the fore. Greatly detailed and beautifully written with images aplenty, the book enlivens an interwoven natural, social, economic, and political history of colonial North America, especially during the period between the early seventeenth century and the mid nineteenth century. Even after years of research on beavers, I still find a substantial amount of new information in Dolin's book, especially about the intricate and often belligerent relationships among the Dutch, the English, the French, and Native Americans whose lives were orbiting around beaver furs. From my own writing experience, historical nonfiction books are in general difficult to handle because they can easily bore and overwhelm readers with a large number of names, locations, and times. But with an enviable knack of eloquence and elegance, Dolin has succeeded in engaging readers with a sustaining narrative, which makes Fur, Fortune, and Empire both enjoyable and informative. I am thankful to Dolin for bringing out a wonderful book and congratulate him for accomplishing such a major undertaking. I am pretty sure that neither "buffs" nor experts of American history will find the book disappointing. (One minor suggestion: The author may consider adding a chronicle summary for major events at the end of the book. This can be handily done when the paperback version is published.)
ShermanChris More than 1 year ago
This book has the best of all worlds. It's a great read and you learn a lot. The period covered is very broad but the book covers it with a good pace. You realize the history of the fur trade is really the history of our country from Jamestown to the final settlement of the American West. There are some amazing stories built within the book including John Colter's amazing escape from the Indians during the Mountain Man era. Also, the early turf wars between the English and pretty much all other European nations. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago