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Empire of the Bay: The Company of Adventurers that Seized a Continent Reprint Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140299878
ISBN-10: 0140299874
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Comment: A Penguin Book, 2000, Illustrated Trade paperback. ISBN: 9780140299878 No markings on pages or cover. Slight wear from use/age, along the cover and cover's edges is some moderate wear including some creasing along the spine and bottom of front cover - some fading and dings along the edges - the top right tip of the front cover corner is missing. Binding is tight, book is clean, straight and overall in good condition.
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From Publishers Weekly

This fact-packed volume chronicles the colorful 319-year history of the Hudson's Bay Company whose mercantile empire at one time extended from the Arctic Sea to Hawaii. With verve and seeming omniscience, Newman ( Company of Adventurers ) tells outsize tales of the remarkable characters who manned the lonely outposts, Montreal mansions and London boardrooms of the HBC. He writes of the adventurers who explored the wilderness for the company; the internecine wars of fur traders; the establishment of forts and settlements; the parliamentary squabbles and backroom deals manipulated by HBC to retain its monopoly; and the present-day department-store chain, The Bay. Historical illustrations and National Geographic photographer Fleming's documentary shots decorate this sprawling, exciting, illuminating story.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (August 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140299874
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140299878
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,401,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have waited years for these to be re-issued. This is a collection of two of the author's previous books on the HBC (Hudson's Bay Company): Company of Adventurers and Caesars of the Wilderness. It takes its title from yet another of his books, an illustrated, large format volume published several years ago. This is history told in an enthusiastic, romantic style (as opposed to a fussy, dry, academic one) so the reader is greeted not with sociological studies and boring statistics, but with tales of adventurers and Indians, French trappers tramping through northern forests, crusty Scottish traders manning lonely outposts, and of course scheming English financiers in London. I could go on. The focus is on personalities and characters. This is the way history SHOULD be written. The author shows how the settling of North America was in large part accomplished through the activities of the HBC. It is a story generally ignored by most history books (especially American ones). To my knowledge the author is the only one currently writing about the HBC. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Paperback
This book actually goes far beyond the Hudson Bay Company to tell the history of Western Canada. The real greatness of this book the way the author takes a topic and makes it come alive. For example, when it comes time to discuss pemmicam, the food used by the voyageurs, you get a mini-history of buffalo and how each part of the body is used. These lengthy digressions take away some of the chronological flow of the book, but they are well worth it. If you like to know what it was really like to live in a different place at a different time, this is the book for you.
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Hudson's Bay Company is quite simply the most successful commercial enterprise ever known to capitalism. Imagine a company that controlled one twelfth of the earth's surface, whose domain was 10 times larger than the Holy Roman Empire, a company whose beginnings date from 1682, that developed its own Army, its own Navy and whose stock is still reputed to be owned by Britain's Royal Family.

In the forward, the author claims this book is about the impact of Hudson's Bay Company on the development Canada over the past three centuries. But it is really not. The author is being too modest. It is really about the impact of Hudson's Bay Company on the development of North America and how HBC actually was responsible for the formation of Canada and the United States as we know them today.

Everything you read in this book is the result of the primary economic force of its time, fur. The fur business was the primary employer for the inhabitants of eighteenth century North America. As such, it was the primary driver for the continuing exploration of the North American continent.

This then is not just a book about corporate wealth accumulation but of territorial exploration and definition, of competing, overlapping claims at a time in which there simply was no law. HBC was the fur business in Canada and in a very real sense it was HBC that defined the northern territorial limits of the United States.

Read and enjoy this excellently written and well documented book. It is really a treasure. You will learn the amazing history of Canada and an incredible amount about the United States as well.
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Format: Paperback
Newman escapes the traditional trap of history authors, making this book packed with facts and a lively, entertaining read at the same time. Anyone interested in HBC or Canada should read this book, as well as anyone interested in exploration, commercial development or Indian-European relationships. Many of the stories and anecdotes contained here are funny, sad or out-and-out tragic, and anyone familiar with today's corporate world will be amazed at how little things have really changed.
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If history is meant to elevate and entertain, then this book qualifies. Not only is the author's style engaging, but his commentary is itself illuminating. There's so much written these days about "colonial oppression" and the "politics of Empire", but it's refreshing to read a work that is conscientious of these issues without making them a guiding factor.
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This is a tremendous history. Its scope isn't limited to Canada, but spans 400 years of North American history and touches nearly every corner of the world. No other corporation — and certainly none of the great military conquerors — ever controlled more of the earth's land area than the Hudson Bay Company.

Anyone half-awake these days must be aware of the rise of incredibly powerful, international corporations operating seemingly beyond law, yet for greed, ruthlessness, and singular pursuit of profit it's hard to imagine many businesses will ever out do this grand-daddy of them all, the HBC.

The HBC story is really appalling and enthralling, and Newman is an excellent writer in the style of Barbara Tuchmanm and Alan Moorehead. It's all an incredible adventure story, probably not much known outside of Canada, yet full of unbelievable characters and events. (Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days" is based on the journey of an HBC executive, and other company men were the first to cross North America to reach the Pacific and Arctic oceans, beating Lewis and Clark by decades — and doing it pretty much alone since the HBC was more interested in pinching pennies than exploring new worlds.)

A really great book. I'd give it six stars if I could.
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