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Champlain's Dream

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  855 Ratings  ·  149 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
Kindle Edition, 848 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by Simon & Schuster
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Dec 04, 2016 Cody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
Read this one as prep for "Fathers and Crows." Vollmann's Seven Dreams series is not necessarily historically accurate, so I wanted to have a true perspective of New France before diving into that behemoth of a novel.

Most of the sources Fischer had to work with are 400 years old, and it is remarkable that he was able to piece all of these materials together to create such a thorough biography. While Champlain published reports throughout his career, most of these were short on details of his own
Feb 20, 2011 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 09, 2009 James Murphy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
The life and times of this pivotal figure in history is told in vivid and bold narrative. I did not even know who Samuel de Champlain was before I read this funny it is that history books 'editorialize' who should be written about. I would venture to say that very few Americans know the role Champlain played in his three decades of influence in North America.
David Bales
Jun 06, 2015 David Bales rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
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
Feb 03, 2017 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: colonial-america
Samuel de Champlain was one of the great explorers of the 17th Century. Over the course of 30 years, he explored much of what is now Canada and the New England states. He is considered the founder of New France, which is now Quebec. In 1605, he helped found the colony of Port Royal, Nova Scotia, which was the first permanent French settlement in North America. This is a thorough biography of Champlain but also a history of the first interactions between the French explorers/settlers in North Ame ...more
Henry Sturcke
Aug 26, 2014 Henry Sturcke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 20, 2014 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 20, 2009 Gordon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
This is a major scholarly work about Champlain, his era, and the founding of French North America. Champlain may have been the illigitamate son of King Henry IV, but in any case he enjoyed great access to the king as a young man. In his youth he experienced the horrors of 9 religious civil wars with their attendant cruelties. Both he and Henry had a strong desire to form a peacefulsociety where all (Catholics and protestants mainly) could live in harmony. Both may have been babtized protestant b ...more
May 30, 2009 jcg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Scott Taylor
Feb 13, 2011 Scott Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael Carlson
Feb 18, 2014 Michael Carlson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 03, 2014 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 08, 2015 Francois rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 19, 2012 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this well researched book.
stevendphllbrick sr+
Well worth the 834 pages!
Apr 27, 2016 N rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
1) "Champlain himself was largely responsible for that [wealth of history but lack of personal information]. He wrote thousands of pages about what he did, but only a few words about who he was. His published works are extraordinary for an extreme reticence about his origins, inner thoughts, private life, and personal feelings. Rarely has an author written so much and revealed so little about himself. These were not casual omissions, but studied silences. Here again, as in the old battle-print, ...more
Jason King
I read one book by Fischer years ago and he struck me back then as an modern-day old-timey historian, and this book did not dispel this idea from my head. The book read like a hagiography (or as a demonization) as many of the worst biographies do - I was kind of shocked as to how little about Champlain I still understand, even though I now know he always made good decisions and any misunderstandings he had with others were because of others were because of them. Including his "lack of luck in lo ...more
Leslie Rusch
As I live in Quebec, this history held many pleasures. I particularly appreciated the author's perspective on the French-Indian relationships, especially as contrasted with other colonization in North America.
Alice Lemon
Fischer's account of Champlain's life and of French politics and colonialism in the first decades of the Seventeenth Century was interesting. However, the book seemed concerningly hagiographic to me, and I found myself having a bit of trouble trusting that it was giving unbiased accounts.
Stephan Bolton
Mar 08, 2017 Stephan Bolton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of his earlier works, Champlain's Dream is another fine example of Fischer's excellence as historian and talent as storyteller. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Marjorie Schultz
Lots of great info, but often a little dry. You don't always get North American discovery history from a French perspective.
Apr 22, 2012 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
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
Sep 10, 2014 Billhotto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Roger Burk
Aug 09, 2011 Roger Burk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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...

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