View topic - Pierre-Esprit Radisson - 1600s wilderness hero

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PostPosted: August 2nd, 2019, 6:32 am 
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This was on CBC radio last night... good descriptions of Radisson's travels and adventures during a time when canoes were the only way to travel the interior. Iroquoian culture and history also covered. And lots more.

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/pierre-e ... -1.5166425


Also the author's book, on the reading list.

Mark Bourrie - Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson

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PostPosted: August 2nd, 2019, 8:15 am 
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Thanks for posting this.


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PostPosted: August 2nd, 2019, 12:36 pm 
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Thanks for the lead. In the same vien we recently read Adam Shoalts book
A history of Canada in ten maps, epic stories of charting a mysterious land


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PostPosted: August 3rd, 2019, 7:41 pm 
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Just listened to this on the cbc podcast for the show.

1. I had to speed it up to 30% faster to make it bearable the host and the person reading the excerpts were so annoying. Especially the person reading the excerpts.
2. The author is supremely confidant bordering on arrogant "I have given Canada a wilderness hero!" he proclaims at least twice in the interview. I guess David Thompson, Alexander McKenzie, Samuel De Champlain and others don't exist.....

Kind of turned me off from reading the book.


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PostPosted: August 4th, 2019, 11:36 am 
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Well, he's promoting his newly-published book. Probably exercising some authority in that something new has been uncovered about 1600s North America. Sourced from Radisson's own journals so something new there.

I'm looking forward to reading the book. The descriptions in the radio program show history described partially from the Iroquoian viewpoint, and indicate a hard and dark wilderness for the colonizing French, maybe less so for the natives ... IIRC, "hellish summers and bitterly cold winters". Probably lots of suffering and surprising insights, we'll see.

Sagard's Long Journey to the Land of the Hurons (if I've got the title right) is the original text of a French missionary at the same time and written from that viewpoint (along with the Huron Relations mentioned in the program)... Bush Runner should provide an alternate view, esp from indigenous life during the 1600s when Radisson was adopted into an Iroquois family. And escaping from it, to New York, pirates, the Caribbean, and England and the court of the English King. What more could you want?

Must read.

CBC Ideas. Goes over great inside a tent.

8)

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PostPosted: August 5th, 2019, 7:22 am 
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Yep, lots of suffering.... review from the Globe and Mail.

Quote:
Lake Superior had frozen over. Temperatures hovered around 40 degrees below zero. Families slept in huts they dug out of the snow. They counted their dead each morning. Pierre-Esprit Radisson, starving himself during this “Hunger Winter” of 1659, described people digging for roots, “which could not be done without great difficulty, the earth being frozen two or three feet, and the snow five or six above it.” In Bush Runner, a biography of Radisson (1636-1710), author Mark Bourrie continues the depiction, showing people making soup from the vines that grew on trees and, having long since eaten their dogs, boiling the bones that the crows had picked clean.

Like explorer John Franklin 150 years later on his disastrous first overland expedition, the starving Huron “boiled leather intended for clothes and shoes” and ate it. They boiled their leather tents. They boiled and ate the beaver pelts that, for Radisson, were the reason he was here. Finally, “they boiled the skins that mothers used as diapers.” When two half-starved Sioux stumbled into camp, Radisson tried to buy their skinny dog. They refused so he waited until they slept. Then he lured the dog away, stabbed it to death, and had it “broiled like a pig, cut in pieces, guts and all, so every one of the family had his share.”

Anybody who finds this hard to read should take a miss on Bourrie’s vivid narrative because you ain’t seen nothing yet. Having arrived in New France in 1651 as a peasant teenager, Radisson was taken prisoner by Iroquois. He showed such a keen interest in Mohawk language and culture – and had such an extraordinary gift for languages – that, after enduring some mild torture, he was adopted and assimilated. More strenuous bouts of torture would come later, after Radisson betrayed and helped murder three young travelling companions.

Bourrie points out that judging ancient First Nations people “on the details of torture adapted from the historical record is akin to reading Rudolf Hess’s autobiography of his years as Auschwitz commandant to get a grasp of how mid-20th-century Europeans lived and felt.” That said, he spares us nothing – not the burning of hands and feet, the pulling of fingernails, or “the dance of the heads.” Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Bourrie’s Radisson is a tough survivalist, a brilliant linguist and a ruthless con man with an eye for the main chance. He will betray any friendship, any alliance, even to the point of committing murder, if treachery furthers his own ends. And he will not lose any sleep over it. Bourrie uses the adventurer’s story to shed light on northern North America in the 1600s. He leads us into an Otherworld as distant from contemporary Canada as any universe in science fiction.

That Otherworld comprises people of many different cultures and languages. As often as not, they treat each other badly. Some are polygamous, others aren’t. Some torture their prisoners to death, others just bonk them on the head. Bourrie insists repeatedly that 17th-century Europe, gripped by feudalism, was in many ways less progressive than what is known as the New World. If Radisson, born into the peasant class, had never sailed to New France, he would have been trapped in a life of drudgery and servitude. Among the Iroquois, where social mobility was based on a kind of merit, he became, for a time, a young aristocrat.

Radisson, together with his older, less charming brother-in-law, Médard des Groseilliers, lived an adventure that took him back and forth between Old Europe – Amsterdam, Paris, London – and New France, the first of the North American colonies. His wide-eyed ramblings led to the creation in 1670 of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which in turn gave rise to Canada.

Before that came about, Iroquois country was made up of not only forests and rivers but “vast fields of corn, walled towns so strong” that the English called them castles, and wide trails linking communities spread over 200 miles. The Iroquois cleared tens of thousands of acres in the forests and planted corns and beans, and men and women stayed in nearby cabins while clearing, planting and harvesting.

Among the Ojibwa, an Algonquian people, collective enterprise revolved around “dozens of duodena, the clans that were the main social organizations in the community.” As in the Scottish Highlands, these clans had collective rights – in this case, controlling not farmlands but trade routes.

Bush Runner is chock-a-block with little-known facts. It’s a dark adventure story that sweeps the reader through a world filled with surprises. The book is compelling, authoritative, not a little disturbing – and a significant contribution to the history of 17th-century North America.



https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/bo ... ntures-of/

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PostPosted: February 27th, 2020, 5:55 pm 
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Red it. Very good book! Awful lot of info on 1rst nations. He was one tough SOB


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PostPosted: February 29th, 2020, 8:09 pm 
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Thanks for the reminder, I'd seen this reviewed when it first came out, made a mental note and completely forgot about it. Got it in my cart now, I can rely on amazon not to empty that cart on me no matter how long I leave it laying there.


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PostPosted: March 1st, 2020, 8:18 am 
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It's in the Toronto library system... 134 holds / 28 copies so still popular and 135th in the lineup will mean a wait, prob several mo... (yes, I stayed in line that long before reading last year).

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PostPosted: March 3rd, 2020, 4:51 pm 
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Just finished reading the book, highly recommend.

This was just a book I picked because I thought it might be interesting, was not disappointed.


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PostPosted: March 3rd, 2020, 10:49 pm 
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Thanks for bringing this post back up.
Excellent read. This is the kind of stuff they should use in high school history classes. Spice it up a bit..
Would love to go for a coffee with this guy!


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PostPosted: July 5th, 2020, 8:40 am 
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Hmm, well I finally got around to reading this. To my surprise, I went in expecting to like it, and came out with ameaney's reaction. The topic is highly worthy; but the book is almost unreadable. Not in a bad way or anything. It's just that it doesn't seem to have been professionally edited, or at all. If the matter of editing may seem a quibble, then try this for basic canoe travel awareness. Not once but twice (that editing thing again) the author reminds us the joint Nelson/Hayes estuary is the end of the epic canoe route to the Rocky mountains. I found this to be a strange new perspective on something I thought I well knew. Namely, that the canoe route per se, which did not exist during the century about which this book is concerned, originated from Montreal and didn't make a side trail descent to Hudson Bay. When the Nelson/Hayes route did divert the the afore-mentioned canoe route, now into the 2nd century after the events which this book describes, it was not a canoe route as the company did not generally employ canoes the way the French and Canadians had. OK these are all just quibbles, so the dusenberg problem with this book is that the author has crammed too many historical events into too few words. The sequence of sentences at times has less sense than the most jumbled whitewater you've ever paddled, and chapter six is quite literally unreadable, for real. If you're going to allow European history to intrude in a book about North America, you can't get away with a phrase like "and there's really no need to keep this all straight". Fischer's book on Champlain by comparison does an excellent job of describing how European politics tossed Champlain around like a york boat on the Kettle rapids section of the Nelson at times. The same effort was needed here but didn't get it. I think Newman has just the one chapter on Radisson and Groseillers, I haven't looked at that book for a while but from my dim recollection it's still a better treatment. Nevertheless, this new book has been received to wide acclaim and won significant awards so maybe it's just me. And I won't be selling it or donating it away or anything like that.


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PostPosted: July 6th, 2020, 10:37 am 
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jbishop2112 wrote:
Hmm, well I finally got around to reading this. To my surprise, I went in expecting to like it, and came out with ameaney's reaction. The topic is highly worthy; but the book is almost unreadable. t.

:D :thumbup:


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