The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976

Book Reviews

ROBERT A. CALVERT, Editor
A History of French Louisiana. Volume One: The Reign of Louis XIV,
1698-1715. By Marcel Giraud. Translated by Joseph C. Lambert.
(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1974. Pp. xiii+398.
Bibliography, illustrations, index. $15.)
So Vast So Beautiful a Land: Louisiana and the Purchase. By Marshall
Sprague. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1974. Pp. xix+393.
Bibliography, illustrations, index. $12.50.)
It is difficult to compare or even to discuss in the same context two
books as different as these, even though both treat of the history of Louisi-
ana. Marshall Sprague, author of numerous popular books on the Amer-
ican West, has written a general account for the nonspecialist beginning
with the explorations of the sixteenth century and ending with the purchase
of the area by the United States in the early nineteenth century. His pur-
pose is to retell the story of this vast land in such a way that its heroes and
villains will come to life for the general reader, who will then comprehend
and appreciate the heartache, courage, violence, and intrigue that went
into this epic drama so vital to our national existence. Given both the gran-
deur of his subject and Sprague's own remarkable talents as a storyteller,
he perhaps could not have failed. A fast-paced account, laced with anec-
dotes and lively vignettes, the book has a novel-like quality. Its historical
merit is least in references to European affairs which, in Sprague's opinion,
were merely petty and poor excuses made by French monarchs for not
having turned their full attention and resources to the North American
possessions. Based mainly on works of a general nature and with little
scholarly apparatus, the book will be of no interest to the specialist.
Marcel Giraud's book (an able translation of the French work pub-
lished in I953), on the other hand, examines only an early and small
segment of Louisiana's history. Even in this short period of time the author
has eschewed a comprehensive recital of events and instead has confined
himself to a study in depth of the permanent settlements-the methods of
their colonization, the people themselves, and their way of life. Written by
a scholar for other scholars, his work is based on extensive archival research
on both sides of the Atlantic: in Paris at the archives of the Navy and

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101203/. Accessed December 18, 2014.