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The Jesuits in North America in the 17th Century

The Jesuits in North America in the 17th Century by Francis Parkman

"The Jesuits in North America in the 17th Century" by Francis Parkman offers a deeply insightful and thorough look at the role of the Jesuit missionaries in early North American history. Parkman's detailed research and vivid storytelling bring to life the challenges and triumphs of these dedicated individuals as they navigated the complexities of indigenous relationships, colonial politics, and religious fervor. The author's clear writing style and attention to historical accuracy make this book not only informative but also engaging for readers interested in the intersection of religion, culture, and colonialism in the New World. Parkman's exploration of the Jesuits' efforts to convert and educate the Native American populations sheds light on the complexities of cultural exchange and the impact of European colonization on indigenous communities. Overall, "The Jesuits in North America in the 17th Century" is a valuable and enlightening read for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of the early history of North America.

Book Description:
Parkman has been hailed as one of America's first great historians and as a master of narrative history. Numerous translations have spread the books around the world. The American writer and literary critic Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) in his book "O Canada" (1965), described Parkman’s France and England in North America in these terms: "The clarity, the momentum and the color of the first volumes of Parkman’s narrative are among the most brilliant achievements of the writing of history as an art."

Parkman's biases, particularly his attitudes about nationality, race, and especially Native Americans, has generated criticism. The Canadian historian W. J. Eccles harshly criticized what he perceived as Parkman's bias against France and Roman Catholic policies, as well as what he considered Parkman's misuse of French language sources. However, Parkman's most severe detractor was the American historian Francis Jennings, an outspoken and controversial critic of the European colonization of North America, who went so far as to characterize Parkman's work as "fiction" and Parkman himself as a "liar".

Unlike Jennings and Eccles, many modern historians have found much to praise in Parkman's work even while recognizing his limitations. Calling Jennings' critique "vitriolic and unfair," the historian Robert S. Allen has said that Parkman's history of France and England in North America "remains a rich mixture of history and literature which few contemporary scholars can hope to emulate". The historian Michael N. McConnell, while acknowledging the historical errors and racial prejudice in Parkman's book The Conspiracy of Pontiac, has said: would be easy to dismiss Pontiac as a curious perhaps embarrassing artifact of another time and place. Yet Parkman's work represents a pioneering effort; in several ways he anticipated the kind of frontier history now taken for granted.... Parkman's masterful and evocative use of language remains his most enduring and instructive legacy.

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