Weddle, author of two other tracts on La Salle's adventures, makes use of evidence from the recent (1995) discovery of the wreck of the Belle
, one of four vessels brought to America in La Salle's last, ill-fated venture. La Salle, who would have made a great "spin-meister" in our times, never quite got things right, despite his single-minded quests and his self-adulation (his final landing spot was considerably west--in Texas, actually--of where he thought he was). That single-mindedness was what enraged many of his more mortal cohorts and eventually caused one of them to plot and carry out his murder. Likewise, while acknowledging La Salle's bravery and stamina in navigating the Mississippi for the first time from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, the author is scathing in his final judgment of the celebrated explorer, stating that "he failed on all counts: as fur trader, explorer, military leader, and colonizer. Most of all . . . as a human being." Numerous illustrations of the artifacts salvaged from the Belle
round out this instructive volume. Allen WeaklandCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Robert S. Weddle, a Fellow of the Texas Historical Association, is widely regarded as the dean of Texas colonial historians. Author of La Salle, the Mississippi, and the Gulf: Three Primary Documents and Wilderness Manhunt: The Spanish Search for La Salle, also published by Texas A&M University Press, he is an independent historian with a background in journalism and publishing.