cover image La Salle: Explorer of the North American Frontier

La Salle: Explorer of the North American Frontier

Anka Muhlstein. Arcade Publishing, $22.95 (244pp) ISBN 978-1-55970-219-5

Robert Cavelier de La Salle is largely forgotten in the annals of exploration in North America. Muhlstein ( Baron James ) resurrects him in this lively biography and adventure story that also portrays the struggle for power between lay and religious officials in Quebec. Educated by the Jesuits in France, La Salle resigned the priesthood and traveled to Quebec in 1667 to search for the Northwest Passage. He focused on the Great Lakes and rivers that led him to the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. The arrival in Quebec of a new governor, the Comte de Frontenac, in 1672 set the stage for La Salle's more extensive explorations, as the two men conspired to circumvent the powerful Jesuits. La Salle learned Indian languages and customs; Nika, an Iroquois, became his trusted guide. La Salle claimed Louisiana for King Louis XIV in 1682. On a return voyage from France in 1687, his ship got lost in the Mississippi Delta, and as the party struggled through swampland, LaSalle was murdered by two of his own men. (May)