From Publishers Weekly
Faragher relates, in all its complex, searingly sad details, the story of how the hapless French Acadians were run out of their Nova Scotia homes—a story known to most from Longfellow's Evangeline
. Caught between French and British empires, these peaceful farming and fishing families, descendants of French settlers, struggled to maintain their neutrality and their birthright ways. But in 1755, British and colonial New England forces rounded them up and dispersed them by sea throughout North America. Families were broken up; hundreds died on their voyages; their towns were torched; and only small, scattered communities, like the Cajuns of Louisiana, survived into the modern era. "The removal of the Acadians," concludes Faragher (the Yale biographer of Daniel Boone), "was the first episode of state-sponsored ethnic cleansing in American history." More than that, the communities destroyed, some 150 years old, had lived peaceably and intermarried with the Mikmaq natives of the Canadian shores. A way of life that could have been a harbinger of our own era of diversity was destroyed. Unfortunately, the book overwhelms the reader with detail, as if Faragher wanted to set down every fact of Acadian history so it would never again be lost. Instead, it is readers who'll be lost in this gripping tale of a dishonorable affair in American history. B&w illus.
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French Acadia--today's Nova Scotia and New Brunswick--was destroyed in 1755 when British officers expelled an entire people. Here Faragher perceptively narrates the 150-year-long history of French Acadia, profiling its founding personages, significant events, and the Acadians' gradual acquisition of a distinct identity. Grown from intermarriage with the indigenous Mikmaq, this identity resisted pledging fealty to the French or British sovereigns, but to say the Acadians' fate was the consequence of being crushed between imperial millstones would be simplistic. To paraphrase the author, not inexorable forces but willful men determined what happened, a thesis supported by lenient and diplomatic British officials (Britain held Acadia after 1709) who understood the Acadians. Army officer Charles Lawrence was not such a man--with expedient though specious arguments about Acadian hostility, he ordered destruction and removal as a preliminary to the incipient French and Indian War. Faragher estimates expulsion cost about 10,000 lives; the survivors scattered to Louisiana and elsewhere. From the author of the definitive Daniel Boone
(1992), this is a superior work of history. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved