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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exceptional Piece of Historical Analysis, Jan. 29 2012
By 
Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Champlain's Dream (Paperback)
This is my first acquaintance with anything written by American historian David Hackett-Fischer and, like other reviewers on this website, I am very pleased with the depth of research available to me in this history. Here is a prominent historian who not only presents a very clearly-defined thesis on the role of Samuel Champlain - one of Canada's most innovative and dynamic explorers - but, also, provides the evidence to defend it. Hackett-Fischer takes the many lesser known details of Champlain's remarkable life and turns them into a very enjoyable and readable biography that helps explain how and why he figured so significantly in the birth of Canada. Here are some features that a reader might be interested in checking out when reading this book:(1) to begin with, the curtains of history are effectively rolled back on the early life of Champlain as he grew up in the busy French port of Brouage during the French Religious Wars. During these formative years, we get to see the making of Champlain as a young man trained in the world of seamanship and navigation;(2) this is followed up by a period in which we see Champlain honing a range of personal interests and skills as he joined various expeditions to the New World in the late 16th century. The author stresses that from these early times Champlain was one very astute, self-taught individual who had a sense of adventure, and a resolve to see it through;(3) then comes that critical time when Champlain stepped out and proved to royalty that he was the man to head up the colonization of New France. This part of the story is filled with all kinds of challenges and intrigues that included his need to contend with nature, hostile natives, foreign powers, and political rivals. Champlain's ability to overcome these crisis attests to his deep commitment to making New France an effective colony;(4) a fourth part of this study is devoted to reviewing some of the available scholarships on Champlain's life that either debunks or praises his achievements. To underscore the importance of this man's contribution to modern Canadian history, there are thousands of certified documents attesting to his influence in a number of fields: agriculture, architecture, commerce, cartography, navigation, exploration, writing, government and warfare. Throughout this biography, Hackett-Fischer has made an excellent case for regarding Champlain as the ideal person to take on this historic quest to open a continent to a new civilization, with all its pros and cons.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Champlain's Dream: a masterpiece, Sept. 4 2010
By 
alain chartrand (Temploux, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Champlain's Dream (Paperback)
A masterpiece, really.

David Hackett Fischer is definitely well-read about the colonial period and his subject, no doubt about it. In a bit more than 600 pages Fischer reveals his quest for Champlain's wisdom in bringing about the first European settlements into being in the North American wilderness. His writing is clear and precise, with some interesting insights into the problems faced by Indians-European relationship at that time. He grips his reader and doesn't let go.

The heroic life of Champlain and his remarkable work in founding "La Nouvelle France" put into contrast two models of development in North America. One based on exclusion and violence, a path far too often chosen by the first English, Spanish, and Dutch explorers and colonists. The other, Champlain's, implies a behaviour which aims actively at respect for others, natives and Europeans alike, according to Christian principles.

Such a vision upon which Champlain devoted his entire life shows a man far beyond compare. Coupled with his sense of reality shaped by decades of soldiery and leadership, Champlain was an empire-builder unlike so many others. His profound humility, disdain of violence, active rejection of abuse and exploitation along with other attributes such as soldier, geographer, ethnologist, diplomat, and chronicler made him the finest character. Someone that Canada should be proud of.

On a side note, I'd like to stress the point that Fischer's knowledge of French is really impressive. As a French native speaker I could only admire, eyes wide open, how competent Fischer (an American!) is in rendering his translation in modern English of the old French texts. Actually some English Canadian historians working on Canadian history should be inspired by the determination to give further qualitative content and meaning to their own work when reading Fischer's book - and rightly so.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Writes the Definitive Biography of Quebec's Founder, March 7 2009
By 
Barry E. Boothman "westshire" (Fonthill, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Champlain's Dream (Hardcover)
David Hackett Fischer is one of the best historians in the United States. His studies range from meticulously detailed appraisals of Federalists during the Jeffersonian era to appraisals of the patterns of economic growth. He also has retained an ability to write beyond academic circles, making history accessible to the public -- as in his book "Washington's Crossing."

Now, on the four hundreth anniversary of the founding of Nouvelle France, Fischer has produced the definitive biography of Samuel de Champlain. The historical field in many countries has fragmented into many sub-sectors, sometimes into highly esoteric areas. While this has allowed many explorations of social and cultural aspects of Canada's development, the sad reality is that contemporary Canadian historians have generally failed to present the 'big picture' and to explore the character of Canada's leaders and the development of its institutions. Instead, it took an American to write this story of Champlain's Vision.

The preceding does not take anything away from Fischer's accomplishment. This is a massive but marvellouslly-written biography, which makes Champlain's successes and failure understable. Champlain's life, his plans for Nouvelle France, the explorations, his time as governer, and the diplomatic efforts with Native Americans are carefully laid out. Remembering his audience, Fischer narrative flows, sometimes seeming like a grand novel.

Go to your nearest online bookstore and order. This is a good one and Canada is the beneficiary.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of Historical Writing, Dec 12 2008
By 
Coach C (Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Champlain's Dream (Hardcover)
In this incredible biography of one of Canada's founders, Samuel de Champlain, Pulitzer Prize winning author David Hackett Fischer produces yet another textual masterpiece. "Champlain's Dream" combines a stirring narrative with a dizzying array of historical sources which results in the rare kind of history book that will be read for many generations to come.

First off, Fischer's ability to put together source material into a coherent and compelling narrative is nothing short of brilliant. The book reads like a novel with Champlain as the central character. Yes, at times, you can sense a bit of Stockholm syndrome, hero worship, but the writing is so fluid and exciting that anyone can appreciate it regardless of its historiographical content.

Overall, I can see no reason why anyone would not want to purchase this book. It is a fantastic piece of writing, of history, of fantasy becomes reality. I think Fischer has another award-winning book on his hands, and he deserves it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars 5 stars 5 stars, March 26 2014
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This review is from: Champlain's Dream (Hardcover)
I really don't think this book could receive a rating other than 5 stars. Like some of the reviews have already stated, it really is a masterpiece. For my money, this is Fischer's best book (even Washington's Crossing). He is an exquisite writer with a genuinely enjoyable prose. And his love of history really shines through the words on the page, something that is obviously very difficult to do. He is certainly an optimist as far as the story of Champlain is concerned, but that does not detract from the scholarly work he has put it into this monograph.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, Sept. 8 2013
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This review is from: Champlain's Dream (Hardcover)
More than one of our primary Canadian stories. This has the potential to be a rip-roaring adventure film with a French speaking Bruce Willis.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, May 13 2013
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This review is from: Champlain's Dream (Kindle Edition)
A thoroughly researched history recount of our Canadian roots. It is written with such ease that it will spark an interest even for those who are generally not interested in history. I was utterly pleased with this read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Champlain A Man of Destiny, Feb. 27 2013
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This review is from: Champlain's Dream (Kindle Edition)
Champlain is a very unusual person who was experienced in many areas for the age he lived in...I am a history buf & have read many stories about other gifted people but non had the breadth of experience. from Soldiering,seamanship.mapmaking,politics & religion.....His 27 voyages across the Atlantic have to be a record for his age.....He is the founding father of Canada & his whole life should be taught in every publilc school across this country & the Eastern U.S.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The story of Champlain's exploration of eastern Canada and USA., Feb. 19 2013
By 
T. Schopflocher (Montreal QC, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Champlain's Dream (Paperback)
The book gives a fascinating account of life in 16th and 17th century France, and tells how Champlain was able to gain the trust of the Indians and plant the seeds of European settlement in northeastern North America.
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5.0 out of 5 stars very good history record, Dec 19 2012
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This review is from: Champlain's Dream (Paperback)
I gave this book to my husband who is a voracious reader of history. He says this is one of the best books he's ever read on one of Canada's early and important explorers. He received it on a Thursday for his birthday and finished it the following Wednesday.
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Champlain's Dream
Champlain's Dream by David Hackett Fischer (Paperback - Oct. 7 2009)
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