Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Book Review - Competitive Struggle: America's Western Fur Trading Posts, 1764-1865
Competitive Struggle recounts the 101-year history of America’s western fur trade. From the founding of Saint Louis in 1764 through 1865, the demand for beaver pelts and buffalo robes spawned a competitive fervor that enveloped mountain men, fur trading companies, national governments, and Native Americans alike.
R. G. Robertson traces this colorful era through the history of the individual trading posts located between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean. The posts, listed alphabetically, are keyed to eight pages of detailed maps showing the location of each trading house. Posts with multiple names are keyed to a single reference.
The book includes a series of easy-to-read flowcharts showing the evolution of the various fur companies. Extensive end notes, an index, a glossary of terms, and a list of modern-day trading post replicas and their photographs make Competitive Struggle a must-have reference on America’s fur trade.
About the Author
R. G. Robertson served as a Marine Corps officer in Vietnam and then earned an MBA from the University of Michigan. He spent nineteen years in the investment business before retiring in 1992, when he began writing. He and his wife, Karen, live in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Karen Robertson was born and raised in Oregon and earned BS degrees in history and political science from Portland State University. Her photographs have been published with R. G.’s articles and books. In addition to photography, her interests include travel and wilderness adventure.
My Take on the Book
This book opened my eyes to the overall business and culture of the fur trading business. I never would have guessed how dangerous this business could be and how downright dirty some of the people in the business would play to get what they wanted. This book painted a open and honest picture of what it was really like to work in this business and I could many times close my eyes and find myself seeing and feeling the world that the author was describing (which is exactly what I want in a book). The book drew me in and made me want to keep reading from beginning to end. The book also was an amazing resource, and was filled with facts and figures about so many of the trading posts. I also appreciated all of the great images that accompanied the information as well as the copious biography at the end that allows you to dig deeper if you so choose. For any student of US History, you will love this book as it will open your eyes to a whole new world!
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