La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West

La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West

by Francis Parkman
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La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West by Francis Parkman

This book, based on the eleventh edition of Parkman's classic study The Discovery of the Great West, reflects the author's access to new materials relating to La Salle's explorations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781408676387
Publisher: Sayani Press
Publication date: 07/28/2008
Series: France and England in North America Series
Pages: 552
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.23(d)

About the Author

Francis Parkman, whose epic seven-volume study, France and England in North America, established him as one of this country's greatest historians, was born in Boston on September 16, 1823. His father was a prominent minister and the son of a wealthy merchant; his mother was descended from Reverend John Cotton, the famous New England Congregationalist. Frail health compelled Parkman to spend his early childhood on a farm in neighboring Medford, where he came to love outdoor life. After attending the Chauncy Hall School in Boston he entered Harvard in 1840. Under the influence of Jared Sparks, the college's first professor of modern history, the eighteen-year-old sophomore initially envisioned his monumental account of the conquest of North America. "My theme fascinated me, and I was haunted with wilderness images day and night," recalled Parkman, who visited many of the battlefields of the French and Indian Wars during summer holidays. Though illness forced him to temporarily abandon his studies, he earned an undergraduate degree in 1844, with highest honors in history as well as election to Phi Beta Kappa, and completed Harvard Law School two years later.

In the spring of 1846 Parkman set out with his cousin Quincy Adams Shaw on a strenuous five-month expedition to the Far West. Shortly after returning to Boston he suffered a complete nervous and physical collapse and remained a partial invalid for the remainder of his life. While recuperating he dictated The California and Oregon Trail (1849), a gripping account of his wilderness adventures. Subsequently reissued as The Oregon Trail, the perennially popular travelogue was praised by Herman Melville and later hailed by Bernard DeVoto as "one of the exuberant masterpieces of American literature." Still battling severe headaches and partial blindness, Parkman finished History of the Conspiracy of Pontiac (1851), a prelude to his epic lifework. Over the next decade recurring neurological problems impeded progress on France and England in North America, but he managed to write Vassall Morton (1856), a semiautobiographical novel, and The Book of Roses (1866), a study of horticulture.

Pioneers of France in the New World, the first volume of Parkman's monumental account of the struggle between England and France for dominance of North America, was published in 1865. "Faithfulness to the truth of history involves far more than a research, however patient and scrupulous, into special facts," wrote Parkman in his Preface to Pioneers. "The narrator must seek to imbue himself with the life and spirit of the time." He expanded his dramatic "history of the American forest" with The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century (1867), The Discovery of the Great West (1869), The Old Régime in Canada (1874), and Count Frontenac and New France under Louis XIV (1877). "Like fellow historians of the Romantic school, Parkman believed that the re-creation of the past demanded imaginative and literary art," observed historian C. Vann Woodward. "He looked to such writers as Sir Walter Scott, James Fenimore Cooper and Lord Byron more than to historians for inspiration in his narrative style."

Fearing he might not live to complete his vast work, Parkman next wrote Montcalm and Wolfe (1884), the climactic final volume of France and England in North America. "I suppose that every American who cares at all for the history of his own country feels a certain personal pride in your work," Theodore Roosevelt wrote Parkman. Henry Adams said Montcalm and Wolfe put Parkman "in the front rank of living English historians," and Henry James called it "truly a noble book [that] has fascinated me from the first page to the last." Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., stated: "Montcalm and Wolfe--the tale of how half the continent changed hands on the Plains of Abraham before Quebec--is romantic history at its most vivid and compelling." A Half-Century of Conflict, the sixth volume in the series, appeared in 1892, a year before Francis Parkman's death in Boston on November 8, 1893. Two works culled from his papers were published posthumously: The Journals of Francis Parkman (1947) and Letters of Francis Parkman (1960).

"In the tradition of Gibbon and Prescott, Parkman's achievement was seeing the human and the personal in the great movements of history," wrote Daniel J. Boorstin. "Just as Gibbon had been engaged by the spectacle of Roman grandeur in decline, and Prescott by a new Spanish empire in creation, Parkman was entranced by the wilderness struggles of France and England in North America in the making of a new freer world." And Edmund Wilson observed: "The genius of Parkman is shown not only in his disciplined, dynamic prose but in his avoidance of generalizations, his economizing of abstract analysis, his sticking to concrete events. Each incident, each episode is different, each is particularized, each is presented, when possible, in sharply realistic detail, no matter how absurd or how homely, in terms of its human participants, its local background, and its seasonal conditions.... He had a special sensitivity to landscape and terrain, a kind of genius unequalled, so far as I know, on the part of any other important historian, without which such a story could hardly have been told.... The clarity, the momentum, and the color of the first volumes of Parkman's narrative are among the most brilliant achievements of the writing of history as an art."

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La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
bthibo3 More than 1 year ago
This was a pretty easy read with a detailed account of La Salle and his contemporaries. I've read another book by Parkman that was very choppy, inconsistent, and annoying to read due to its constant grammatical errors. Because of that book, I was a little reticent to buy this one, but it turned out to be well worth it. It's difficult to find good and detailed accounts of early explorers because the historical evidence is lacking. Parkman does a great job with La Salle and I strongly suggest to anybody that's interested in this topic to purchase this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like American frontier history, you will find this book interesting. However, you will have to work for it because of the thousands of copy errors (due to electroning scanning, I guess). Inserted (incorrect ) letters, inserted capital letters, woerd spacing, inability to separate footnotes from the text, etc. all make this a challenge to read. OK, it was free, but you DO pay in terms of frustration. All that said, I read it all and it was worth it. Interesting look at the early French frontier in America.
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