From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Fischer, Pulitzer Prize–winner for Washington's Crossing
, has produced the definitive biography of Samuel de Champlain (1567–1635): spy, explorer, courtier, soldier, sailor, ethnologist, mapmaker, and founder and governor of New France (today's Quebec), which he founded in 1608. This extraordinary and flawed individual was a man of war who dreamed of establishing a peaceful nation in the New World. Fischer once again displays a staggering and wide research, lightly worn, including no fewer than 16 fascinating appendixes covering everything from the Indian Nations in Champlain's World, 1603–35 to Champlain's preferred firearm. The bibliography is equally impressive, and the same should be said of Fischer's literary skills and approach. He does not have a thesis, or a theory, or an ideology, but instead answers questions (Who was this man? What did he do? Why should we care?) to weave together his epic story. With 2008 the 400th anniversary of the foundation of New France, the time is ripe for this outstanding work. 16 pages of color photos; b&w photos, maps. (Oct.)
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Regarding the history of European settlement in North America, David Hackett Fischer has been around the block. It is no surprise, then, that Champlain's Dream
speaks with authority on the relatively unknown biography of one of the period's leading figures. Fischer's solid, comprehensive—and ultimately sympathetic—portrayal of the enigmatic Champlain rekindles the consequences of European settlement in the Americas. Throughout, the author maintains a professional interest in separating fact from fiction: "Because he is a rigorous historian, not a historical novelist, [Fischer] is always scrupulous about drawing a firm line between facts and inferences," claims the reviewer for the New York Times Book Review
. With the exception of the Washington Post
's critic, who cites poor "skills as a narrative historian," critics agree that Fischer's effort is both important and admirable.
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