Francis Parkman is one of the trio of great nineteenth century American historians, the other two being William Hickling Prescott and John Lothrop Motley. Of the three Parkman has stood best the test of time. His superiority lies in his approach. He is less rhetorical and florid in style, less likely to draw sweeping philosophical conclusions from his evidence, and more successful than his contemporaries in evoking history and making it live.
Born a sensitive, sickly son of a Boston Brahmin family, he nurtured extreme hatred for physical weakness. While still a student at Harvard he got “Injuns on the brain,” as he said and was never able to cure himself of the affliction. After graduating he went on a trip, along the Oregon Trail, which covered seventeen hundred miles. From this trip came material for his first work, THE CALIFORNIA AND OREGON TRAIL published in 1849, and he contracted the beginnings of the diseases that plagued him for the rest of his life, arthritis, near-blindness, and painful headaches, all complicated by neuroticism. Though unable to write more than a handful of pages a day, Parkman subsequently turned out volume after volume chronicling the great drama of the colonization and development of the North American Continent.
COUNT FRONTENAC AND NEW FRANCE UNDER LOUIS XIV is the fifth in the historical series known collectively as FRANCE AND ENGLAND IN NORTH AMERICA, published in eleven volumes...
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