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Champlain's Dream

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  620 ratings  ·  116 reviews
In this sweeping, enthralling biography, acclaimed historian David Hackett Fischer brings to life the remarkable Samuel de Champlain -- soldier, spy, master mariner, explorer, cartographer, artist, and Father of New France.

Born on France's Atlantic coast, Champlain grew to manhood in a country riven by religious warfare. The historical record is unclear on whether Champl
ebook, 848 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by Simon & Schuster
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Having grown up a Minnesotan, I feel a lot of affinity towards Canada. After all, Canadians and Minnesotans share a high tolerance for cold; a generally pleasant disposition towards strangers; and a love of ice hockey and maple syrup. Furthermore, after transplanting to Nebraska – the unaccented home of the Gallup corporation – I’ve been told that my accent is very similar to the parodied intonations of our northern neighbors.

That said, I grew up mostly ignorant of the French-Canadian influence
James Murphy
Champlain's dream is biography so big it edges over into history. It might be more corect to say the life related was so big that it enormously affected history. I personally had a double-edged reaction to it, liking it but not liking it.

Samuel Champlain was the French soldier, mariner, and explorer who was along for some of the earliest voyages of discovery to what is now Canada's Maritime coast and the St. Lawrence Valley. He helped found Quebec and other settlements along the river. He travel
David Bales
The history of European colonization in the Americas is strewn with rogues, murderers and exploiters, but this book about Samuel de Champlain, "founder" of New France, (Quebec and Acadia) suggests something different; born in sixteenth century France that was torn apart by religious wars between Catholics and Protestants that at times approached genocide, (France had ten civil wars in Champlain's lifetime) Champlain saw such horrors as a young soldier in Europe that he adopted a philosophy of to ...more
Bob H
In this warmly-written, epic work, David Hackett Fischer has given us the definitive biography of Samuel Champlain. It's formidably-researched and gives us a richly detailed story of his life and the times he shaped: in this work we learn of early French Canada, and his humane and intelligent rapport with the native peoples, now the First Nation of Canada. He emerges from these pages as an intelligent, charismatic man, even at this distance in time.

It's a book that has had considerable influence
Christopher Sturcke
Another excellent read by David Hackett Fischer. Fischer brings Champlain to life like never before (at least to me and probably most people). Samuel Champlain was a complex man of many talents, titles, and roles and was certainly much more than just another explorer. French history, European history, North American history, Native American history... This book has it all! The book itself is well written with the content having been exhaustively researched as evident by the massive collection of ...more
Henry Sturcke
What I particularly enjoy about David Hackett Fischer’s books is that he is a practitioner of what I like to call “thick history”. On the one hand, he is a throwback to older generations of historians who wrote history as the acts of remarkable individuals – heroes. The Samuel de Champlain who emerges from the pages of this book is definitely that. At the same time, Fischer is informed by the broad range of developments in the practice and writing of history that emerged during the course of the ...more
Much of my reading over the past year or so has focused on this question: How did we (Americans) get to be so politically different, one from the other? How did the "red states" get to be so red? How did the "blue states" get to be so blue? What is the history behind all that?

Books like The Big Sort; Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty ; American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America; A Great and Noble
The Sieur de Champlain was the biggest historical figure in my part of the world when I was growing up in Quebec and attending French Catholic schools. Every year in elementary school, we would study Champlain. He was the George Washington of French Canada, the man who had founded the City of Quebec in 1608, and who was considered the father of his people. Needless to say, this saint-like portrayal didn't make him terribly compelling for an eight-year old boy.

I am glad to report that David Hacke
Scott Taylor
Unexpectedly great. It illuminates a period of North American history in a way that I found entirely compelling.

Champlain, a historical figure I knew little about, was well served by this account. His life is covered from cradle to grave. Not only is his entire life covered, but the book sets up the historical context of Champlain's time period both before, during and after his lifetime. And later provides a perspective on all the influence that he directly had on language, culture and the nasc
Rumoured to be the illegitimate son of the king, Samuel de Champlain grew up in a middle class family, Following his father (real or adopted) to the sea, Champlain quickly became a well respected navigator and captain. He also saw much of the world and learned a great deal.

Champlain used this knowledge when he turned his eye to colonizing New France. He did not repeat the mistakes of the Spanish by trying to enslave the native population, nor try and push them off their land as the English did.
Excellent history. Puts Champlain in the frame of his time. I have done quite a bit of research on Champlain and soon found, after reading lots of conflicting information, that some people writing about Champlain hadn't bothered to go back and actually read his works, but relied entirely on secondary and tertiary sources resulting in repeated misinformation. Fisher sets this record of confusion straight.

A couple of things I would have liked to have seen was more on the Huguenot influence in New
My first time reading a book written by a historian. Surprising at first. Not sure I'd get through it. I quickly enjoyed it and it was an easy read. It is a wonderful explanation of Champlain's life, the entire period as well. Certainly gives readers a deep understanding of New France and the founding culture of Quebec and Canada.
Michael Carlson
I came to this book from two different directions. On the one hand several in my family have loved (and circulated) David Hackett Fischer's book Albion's Seed. So I've had Fischer on my radar for a number of years.
On the other hand, Louise Penny's novel Bury Your Dead has, as a sub-plot, the mystery over the burial location and biographical details of Samuel de Champlain. So, combining both of these directions in reading this very full and very excellent biography of Champlain was a slam dunk.
Fischer has written an engaging and immensely readable narrative of the early history of New France and the architect of its design. Fischer does not fall prey to tedium and the minutiae of detail that may otherwise be expected of this books dimension: a broad 869 pages over a narrow 40 – 50 years. The book carries itself with buoyant momentum and the unexpectedly delightful excitement of adventure. At times this work reads like a novel with well-crafted characterization and development of place ...more
Tim Weakley
An exhaustively footnoted and sourced book. If you enjoy academic history this book is worth the time and effort to read. The author does a great job at really fleshing out the subject, and his desire to began the country that becomes Canada. He makes a good case for Champlain as the bastard son of Henry IV of France, but then he ceases to mention it for the rest of the book. I think it might have been a reason for some of the advantages that Champlain had in the early part of his career.
The ape
Fischer's biography of Champlain is a great read and provides further knowledge and insight into the life of this early French explorer. Having spent time in Upstate New York and other New England states as a child, a recognized many of the places described in the book and I enjoyed adding to my historical knowledge of places I've been. I knew little of Champlain prior to reading the book, and I now view him as not only an explorer of lands, but more importantly as an ambassador to a new world. ...more
The only reason I am giving this a 4 star rather than a 5 is that, as an audio book, it was a slow go in the beginning. But as it progressed, I became more and more interested in this man who was so in love with "New France". Not only was he an amazing explorer, he was one of the few who believed the Native Americans should be treated with respect. I was surprised by how little I actually knew of his story, but perhaps I should not be. We, who live on the south side of The "Maple Curtain" are no ...more
stevendphllbrick sr+
Well worth the 834 pages!
Really enjoyed this well researched book.
Fisher describes Champlain's dream as creating a society in New France in which French and Indian, Catholic and Protestant could live in peace and toleration. It would be a highly ordered, deferential and hierarchical society, this was the way seventeenth century Frenchmen saw things. Champlain was a man of faith but he was also a man of reason. He had grown up and fought during the brutal wars of religion that plagued France at the end of the sixteenth century. He was likely raised a Protestant ...more
Jon Manchester
This was a must-read for a boy who grew up just miles from Lake Champlain in the Champlain Valley of Vermont and went to Champlain Valley High School. World leaders could learn a lot from Samuel de Champlain with regards to his appreciation and understanding of other cultures (Native Americans). The book was fascinating, long (531 pages before all the footnotes and additional material), and provided a lot of history on the process of settling in the New World. If only relations between the India ...more
A wonderfully well written book covering a major part of N. American history at the time of European colonization. The specifics of the French colonies is less well known to the English speaking world, but of great importance.
Champlain was born in Brouage France near the port of La Rochelle and from an early age was a soldier and then a sailor. He fought in the religious wars that wracked Europe in the 16th century and became disgusted with it all. Like his sponsor King Louis IV he strived to cr
Champlain's Dream by David Hackett Fischer describes the life and times of Samuel Champlain. It is a huge work, comprising almost 850 pages, or in the version I listened to, 24 CD's. And, in order to help the reader understand Samuel Champlain, it covers not only his life, but also the times in which he lived. These were a significant period in French History, with the unification of France, the Religious Wars, the Age of Exploration and a rocky series of regime changes.

This biography provides a
Roger Burk
There were perhaps a half-dozen French colonization attempts before 1608, all disastrous failures. Champlain studied them and took the appropriate lessons. He envisioned a new type of colony: well-ordered, hierarchical, Catholic but tolerant. Unlike the English colonies, it would be founded under royal sponsorship, not by various ad-hoc companies seeking gold or utopia. Unlike the Spanish, he would treat the natives with kindness and respect. Indeed, Champlain admired the Indians and befriended ...more
David Hackett Fischer's latest masterpiece focuses on the life of Samuel Champlain and efforts he undertook to create new France. It is a tumultuous tale that is painstakingly researched due to a very scattered array of primary sources. Fischer blends together the ethnographies, documents, archeology and popular myths that surround this time period in North America. It is a fascinating tale of a man who learned from colonial disasters to create the city of Quebec and shape the outlook of early m ...more
Rumoured to be the illegitimate son of the king, Samuel de Champlain grew up in a middle class family, Following his father (real or adopted) to the sea, Champlain quickly became a well respected navigator and captain. He also saw much of the world and learned a great deal.

Champlain used this knowledge when he turned his eye to colonizing New France. He did not repeat the mistakes of the Spanish by trying to enslave the native population, nor try and push them off their land as the English did.
Greg Brozeit
I decided to read this primarily because I lived near Lake Champlain during my childhood and I wanted know what was behind the name. And despite his reputation, I had not read anything by David Hackett Fischer. What I found was a work that gives dignity and relevance to history and biography.

By uncovering Champlain's life, Fischer teaches us a grand overview of an era of French history, the founding of Canada, and, most importantly, the contrast of Champlain's approach to the New World as compar
This is a very large book, it has taken me quite a while to get through. I'd read a hundred pages, then read a quick fiction, then return. However it is not for lack of interest. This book is beautifully written, so vast and comprehensive, and gives a wonderful snapshot into the French thought and culture at the time and the founding of New France.

Being from Massachusetts I have always learned predominantly of the English founding of America, the attitude of the French was so much more interest
I learned so much from this biography of Samuel de Champlain!

I (almost) wish I were still teaching. I regret not being able to add so much more enthusiasm and wonder to the single sentence dedicated to Champlain in Georgia's 6th grade "Canada" curriculum. He was the "Father of New France" in the New World, but Champlain also recorded and worked tirelessly toward his dream for America that echoes still today: to live peacefully with those "unlike ourselves." David Hackett Fischer's excellent pros
This held my attention really well, and I think anyone who wants details about the story of early Quebec and New France would like it. It even goes beyond that a little, and provides some interesting background on France and religious conflicts there in the sixteenth century, and Champlain's early voyages to New Spain and to what would become Nova Scotia and Maine. There's a great story here about Champlain exploring Mt. Desert Island and meeting the Penobscots, then heading up to Bangor for a l ...more
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David Hackett Fischer is University Professor and Earl Warren Professor of History at Brandeis University. His major works have tackled everything from large macroeconomic and cultural trends (Albion's Seed, The Great Wave) to narrative histories of significant events (Paul Revere's Ride, Washington's Crossing) to explorations of historiography (Historians' Fallacies, in which he coined the term H ...more
More about David Hackett Fischer...
Washington's Crossing Paul Revere's Ride Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (America: A Cultural History, Vol. I) Historians' Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History

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