51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Titanic Achievement
This multi-volume edition of Parkman's magnum opus might appear initially daunting, as it covers more than 1,200 pages of material. Suffice it say, however, that the rewards are entirely worth the effort of fording your way through this majestic work.
Parkman triumphed over numerous personal disabilities (extremely poor eyesight and recurring pain in his limbs), to...
Published on February 20, 2002 by Bruce Kendall
0 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointmented
I ordered Volumes I and Vol II of Francis Parkman's France and England in North America as a gift for a very close friend on mine. My mistake was to order them from different sellers, I received Vol II well within the prescribed time frame, yet I have not received Vol 1 even after contacting the seller.
Published 13 months ago by Peter J. Colasante
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51 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Titanic Achievement,
This review is from: Francis Parkman : France and England in North America : Vol. 1: Pioneers of France in the New World, The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century, La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West, The Old Regime in Canada (Library of America) (Hardcover)This multi-volume edition of Parkman's magnum opus might appear initially daunting, as it covers more than 1,200 pages of material. Suffice it say, however, that the rewards are entirely worth the effort of fording your way through this majestic work.
Parkman triumphed over numerous personal disabilities (extremely poor eyesight and recurring pain in his limbs), to produce some of the most important and transcendent histories of the 19th century, works that secured him a place in the American Pantheon, beside Prescott and Bancroft. He has been interpreted both as an example of literary Romanticism by some, and as a supreme pessimist by others. His objective as an historian was to "while scrupulously and rigorously adhering to the truth of facts, to animate them with the life of the past, and, so far as might be, clothe the skeleton with flesh." This notion is reflected repeatedly throughout these volumes. His style is highly descriptive, borrowing as it does from his numerous treks to the sites he writes of. The Jesuits, trappers, governors, nuns and explorers he depicts come across as flesh-and blood, breathing, human beings, engaged in real activities. He has little place for abstraction, and never dwells overlong on minutiae. The ramifications of particular pacts or treaties, for instance, are subordinate to actual events and places. When he takes the reader into an Indian log-house, he/she can practically taste the smoke as it permeates the air.
When it comes to Native Americans, Parkman is far from sentimental. In fact, he bridled at the notion, common in 19th Century Romanticism (particularly Rousseau and even more conspicuously in Chateaubriand's <Atala>), of the Indian as noble savage. Parkman's earlier book on the Oregon Trail stemmed in part from his experiences amongst the Sioux on the Western Plains. The Indians depicted in these pages are, for the most part, more savage than noble. The Iroquois are especially ferocious in their raiding parties and in their methods of reprisal. Those who fell victim to their wrath were in for days and nights of unspeakable torture. Parkman describes these scenes almost too vividly. But as he himself would note,
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read for those interested in an in-depth history,
This review is from: Francis Parkman : France and England in North America : Vol. 1: Pioneers of France in the New World, The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century, La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West, The Old Regime in Canada (Library of America) (Hardcover)This book and its companion, Count Frontenac & New France Under Louis XIV represents one of the US's first great histories. Detailed, but lively written with only a few give-away phrases to let the reader know that this history was written over 100 years ago, these 2 volumes are a must read for any serious US/North American history buff.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Homeric work,
This review is from: Francis Parkman : France and England in North America : Vol. 1: Pioneers of France in the New World, The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century, La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West, The Old Regime in Canada (Library of America) (Hardcover)Parkman's (multi-volume) account the of the struggle of France and England for North American dominance remains the classic history. It is commodious in scope, majestic in vision, and equal with Thucydides in tragic magnitude. Parkman describes what North America once was (with invaluable discriptions of natives), and what still lies below the surface of what we've become.
There are other valuable sources. Morison [The Northern Voyages 500-1600 (1971), The Southern Voyages 1492-1616 (1974), Samuel de Champlain (1972)]. Anderson (Crucible of War) and Eccles (The French in North America). None are as eloquent as Parkman, though Morison's Voyages are equally worthy.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Supplement to the Other Reviews,
Parkman explains the failure of France to succeed in dominating North America, and why the English succeeded. He attributes this to several causes. First, France produced genuine heroes in North America: both the well-known explorers such as Champlain and laSalle, and the amazing but lesser-known Jesuits. But the French efforts were sponsored and dominated by institutions: the French Court, with all its corruption, and the Catholic Church, especially the Jesuits. Their settlers, often selected from the lowest strata of society, were severely restricted in every regard. The English colonies, in contrast, were endeavors of the people of the colonies, who formed their own governments, and had great political and economic freedom. People actually WANTED to come to the English colonies. The English colonies enjoyed a spectacular organic growth, while French Canada was ultimately moribund. "There was no real motive for emigration. No persecution expelled the colonist from his home; for none but good Catholics were tolerated in New France. The settler could not trade with the Indians, except on condition of selling again to the Company at a fixed price. He might hunt, but he could not fish; and he was forced to beg or buy food for years before he could obtain it from that rude soil in sufficient quantities for the wants of his family." (p. 509)
Regarding the native Americans in eastern Canada and the New York / New England area, Parkman certainly does not limit himself to viewing them as savages. He does indeed dwell on their ferocity (well documented elsewhere), but he also portrays them as economically sophisticated. Moreover, he does not play down the Spanish "hounds of hell" who slaughtered their French captives, nor the "mutual outrages" perpetrated by the English and Spanish upon one another.
He attributes the ultimate inability of the Indians to compete with the European culture as the result of the Indians' democratic society, wherein no one had the right to order anyone else what to do. Their only government was "the intermittent one of councils." Consequently, any man in the tribes could begin a war, if he only could get together a few like-minded men, and anyone could walk away from a war begun by the advice of councils.
One more interesting, and for me enlightening point is Parkman's discussion of the tremendous weight the Indian women had in their society: they had women's councils who selected one of their number to represent them in the men's councils; and they were not ignored on important issues.
All in all, it may be a mistake to think Parkman lacking in penetrating understanding or sympathy for the French and the Indians.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old-Fashioned, Narrative History at its Best,
By A Customer
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dated history, still highly readable.,
By A Customer
As others have noted, these books are not "politically correct" in their description of the American Indian. Francis Parkman did write with an agenda. In the late 19th century, Parkman was offended by what he saw as the popular romanticism of the American Indian. (A trend that has continued to this day with the American Indian routinely being presented as a "New Age Eagle scout with a bent for ecology" in both our popular culture and even in our schools.) Thus, Parkman attempted to write what he saw as the "historical" or "correct" portrayal of the American Indian- one that could be ruthless, barbaric, and extremely cruel and he backed up his opinion with numerous historical examples.
Parkman saw himself as a neutral narrator- a "I'm just writing down the facts" type of historian. And he does describe examples of European barbarism and their genocidal strategies against the natives to go along side of his "Injun massacre" portrayal of the American Indian. Yet Parkman wrote with obvious biases and his description of the American Indian tribes is too simplistic. Partly, this is because of Parkman's own racial prejudices, but also it is because of his limitations as a historian. Parkman's history is just a straight narrative with almost no analysis.
For instance, Parkman describes the Iroquois Confederacy's destruction of the Hurons in the late 1640's in terrific detail, but he doesn't really explain why the Iroquois were so determined to crush the Hurons. To Parkman, the answer was simple the Iroquois were primitive savages, who reveled in large scale murder and destruction, so there is no reason to analyze why they attacked and destroyed an ancient enemy. Yet modern research, using the same sources Parkman had access too, has shown that there were very logical reasons why the Hurons were targetted for destruction by the Iroquois- the Hurons because of their location near the entrance of the Ottawa River controlled the beaver trade from the upper Great Lakes and the Iroquois wanted that plum for themselves because in order to survive in the world of the Europeans tribes needed something to bargain with and beaver pelts were that something. Parkman because of his prejudices just could not see Indian tribes being that rational in their decisions to go to war.
Time has definitely exposed Parkman's limitations as a historian. Yet his two volume history of England and France in North America still remains extremely readable and entertaining- his description of entering an Algonquin wigwam is a perfect example of his talent as a master narrator.
[Also, it's pretty sad to see Robert Gould Shaw, a kinsman of Parkman's and to whom the first book of this history was dedicated too, being referred to as "the guy" who Matthew Broderick played in the movie "Glory."]
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Massive work on France in North America,
There are really four separate books here. "Pioneers of France in the New World" is divided into two portions. One tells the story of the short-lived French settlement in Florida, the other part recounts the work of Samuel de Champlain in what became known as Canada, and recounts the fateful decision of Champlain to take the side of the local Huron Indians against their perrenial enemies, the Iroqouis. "The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century" recounts the activities of that sect in their missions which tried without much success to convert the various tribes to Catholicism. "LaSalle and the Discovery of the Great West" tells the story of that individual, and his exploration of the Mississippi valley, the Great Lakes, and Texas, where he was killed, and also includes an account of the travels of Marquette and Joliet, discoverers of the Mississippi river. "The Old Regime in Canada" is more of a description of the colony than an account of events in it, though in the early pages of the work, there is an account of various incidents in the era just after the previous volume. Most of the book contains a description of society, culture, government, church, and economy in the late 17th century, though, and that's the focus of the work.
This is a justly famous work, though Parkman doesn't age as well as you might imagine. He uses strange usages of various words, with somewhat interesting grammar at times, also. The view of the Indians is particularly awkward, and very politically incorrect. He repeatedly refers to them as "savages" for instance, and has little use for their religious beliefs or culture. His view of Catholicism is also characteristically negative, which isn't a surprise in that he wrote in 19th century New England.
Given the clumsy language and the interesting viewpoints, I believe this book is anyway very valuable, and I enjoyed it. There is the issue of it being 1500+ pages, so I wouldn't recommend this book to the faint of heart. Given that this is only the first of two volumes, and that the second one is 100 pages longer, this is a considerable investment of time, even for the prodigious reader.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Storytelling on a Story Rarely Told,
Parkman begins his saga with the founding and settlement of the area we now call "St Augustine" in Florida, arguably the oldest continuous settlement in the United States, and routinely billed as the "Oldest City in The United States." To visit St Augustine today is to make Parkman's narrative come to life, for there we visit and see Ribault's monument, the Castillo de San Marcos, Fort Mose, and the so-called "Fountain of Youth." To those who are more familiar with US colonial history in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and in greater New England, this is a story that greatly predates the Revolution, and unfolds the stormy rivalry between Spain and France's claims in the New World. It is often a brutal epic, but also contains the awe and wonder of Europeans who for the first time explored the unknowns found therein after the long trip across the Atlantic.
After this difficult early series of episodes, the story turns to LaSalle and the many other French explorers who explored and settled in the area of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the issues and battles that ensued as these early explorers met the indigenous peoples of the region. Any map of the United States will yield an abundance of French names through Illinois, Michigan, and all around the Great Lakes (the word "Illinois" itself is a great example, and "Detroit," actually "d'étroit," or "of the straights"), bearing witness to the history of French exploration and settlement in these early years.
Parkman's narrative is superb, a example of historical writing at its best. His source documentation is so thorough that the work can serve as a primary resource for a seemingly endless series of derivative studies. But whether you are a historian or not, Parkman brings the story alive, and lets you be a virtual guest through the centuries. Make sure you get both volumes.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic work,
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Francis Parkman Review,
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Francis Parkman : France and England in North America : Vol. 1: Pioneers of France in the New World, The Jesuits in North America in the ... by Francis Parkman (Hardcover - July 4, 1983)