THE WHITE AND THE GOLD by Thomas B. Costain


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With this book the best-selling historical novelist starts a non-fiction series on the history of Canada, similar to his series on England of which two volumes have already appeared. It starts with a quick summary of the early discoveries of North America, but really gets down to business with Jacques Cartier and the first attempt to settle Canada in 1541-1542. He proceeds through the explorations and the settlement at Quebec by Champlain, and then concentrates on the 17th century French activities in New France. He moves back and forth between the old country and the new, and the political manoeuvers of the French kings, statesmen and merchants which speeded up and slowed down the march of events in Canada, while administrators, adventurers and missionaries battled the elements and the Indians to make a home on the new continent. As in his English histories, Costain tells his story through the brilliant personalities of the time-Richelieu, Louis XIV, Frontenac, Joliet and Marquette, LaSalle, the Jesuit martyrs, the coureurs de Bois, etc. etc. Perhaps the best commentary on this method is that, because of the scarcity of material on some of these individuals and the superfluity on others, the most interesting parts are the glimpses he is able to give of life among the habitants and the towns of Quebec, Montreal, and Three Rivers, and among the Indian tribes. Costain's insistence on judging each person on moral grounds is often irritating, and the character of his material makes much of the book seem repetitious. But it is still an important history for anyone interested in learning about French Canada and the opening of the North American continent.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 1954
ISBN: 1415911142
Publisher: Doubleday