Mon March 2, 2009
Catching up with the intrepid French explorer Samuel de Champlain.
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – On today's show, a consideration of the far-reaching and under-appreciated life and work of Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer who founded New France in North America. Our guest is the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Hackett Fischer, whose new book (out recently from Simon and Schuster) is called "Champlain's Dream." As we learn on this edition of StudioTulsa, Champlain's influential --- and, at times, surprisingly enlightened --- works and deeds as an explorer stem (at least in part) from his expert abilities as a navigator and seaman, and also from growing up in a country bitterly divided by religious conflict. It's not known whether the man who would discover Quebec was born Protestant or Catholic, but we do know that Champlain had a very powerful, and very close, ally in Henri IV, one of France's greatest monarchs. Fischer has written an impressive, hefty, fascinating biography; hearing him discuss it on our show is likewise enjoyable. As one critic (for Kirkus Reviews) has noted, "Champlain's Dream" is "a lucid portrait of a man given too little attention in standard American textbooks. Fischer's work should make it impossible to ignore Champlain's contributions henceforth."