This well-written book guides readers through the history of the Louisiana Purchase, from Napoleon's desire to regain the province of Louisiana for the French, to the territory's purchase by the US under President Thomas Jefferson. The purchase ""was not inevitable,"" Blumberg (Full Steam Ahead, 1996, etc.) writes; the decision ""shaped American's destiny,"" transforming it from a weak and vulnerable nation into a great power. The elements that shape history are clearly demonstrated in this book, which is compelling enough to read in a sitting, but organized in such a manner that it can be dipped into as an adjunct to the curriculum. Abundant maps, political cartoons, and reproductions of paintings and engravings make the subject immediate, and contribute to the inviting format that renders the coverage accessible. Blumberg backs up her conclusions with meticulous footnotes, a bibliography of primary and secondary sources, and an index. Preceding the text is a ""Cast of Characters,"" offering capsule information on the many people appearing in the book. A great and thorough work.