This classic series in two omnibus volumes. Top tier historian. Basic subject in history of North America.
During his life, this series was the most respected history writing in America. In order to overcome France’s objections to allowing Parkman access to their archived sources, Congress passed a special law. What distinguished these series of books was his meticulous research and his writing ability. His exhaustive research left little for future generations to discover.
Theodore Roosevelt dedicated his magnum opus The Winning of the West to Parkman. The Society for American Historians awards the Francis Parkman Prize for the best book on American history, annually.
The series covers the Colonial Era in North America from the French perspective. It covers Canada, the Thirteen Colonies, Great Britain, France, and Spain. The time spans from the first explorers to the final battles that conquered Canada. And yes, France’s explorations and settlements in the Mississippi River valley are covered, too.
These are the reasons that we are recommending this series and also blogging it. We get a commission on sales of books which we use to fund this blog.
In Parkman’s own words, from his Introduction to the series.
If, at times, it may seem that range has been allowed to fancy, it is so in appearance only; since the minutest details of narrative or description rest on authentic documents or on personal observation.
Faithfulness to the truth of history involves far more than a research, however patient and scrupulous, into special facts. Such facts may be detailed with the most minute exactness, and yet the narrative, taken as a whole, may be unmeaning or untrue. The narrator must seek to imbue himself with the life and spirit of the time. He must study events in their bearings near and remote; in the character, habits, and manners of those who took part in them, he must himself be, as it were, a sharer or a spectator of the action he describes.
With respect to that special research which, if inadequate, is still in the most emphatic sense indispensable, it has been the writer’s aim to exhaust the existing material of every subject treated. While it would be folly to claim success in such an attempt, he has reason to hope that, so far at least as relates to the present volume, nothing of much importance has escaped him. With respect to the general preparation just alluded to, he has long been too fond of his theme to neglect any means within his reach of making his conception of it distinct and true.
If you have a bucket list for must-read histories, put this on it.