DISCOVERY OF THE GREAT WEST.
What came to my mind after reviewing this book was the phrase “Iron Man” times ten. If you are familiar with the Iron Man competitions it consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a marathon 26.2-mile, raced in that order and without a break. Most Iron man events have a strict time limit of 17 hours to complete the race.
La Salle’s search of the Mississippi river, discovery of its mouth by an expedition through the interior of Canada and the present day United States and his quest to sail from France to the mouth of the Mississippi, to locate the Mississippi mouth by another route, extended over 20 years and included exertions and hardships that pale in comparison to one “Iron Man Competition”. Author Parkman lays it out as he discovers the story sifting through a mountain of material. Parkman’s labor in researching this book and La Salle’s life story is a great read to anyone that wishes to try and understand those that lived and pave the way for what we have today.
When one realizes that that La Salle lived less than four, 100 year human life spans from were we are in the year 2012 it shows how young a Nation the United States is and how quickly change has taken place. Try to imagine a time when people thought it possible that a great river somewhere to the west and of unknown origin, the Mississippi river yet to be discovered, flowed south into the Pacific on the western Mexican coast and you will enter the time of which La Salle lived.
Some 250 years later when Theodore Roosevelt set out on his venture down the river of doubt in Paraguay in 1912, it was dangerous as any expedition of his day and it encompassed many of the dangers that La Salle faced, but it paled in comparison to the earlier explorers of the United States. The early explorer’s adventures often lasted a lifetime without the knowledge of reading about past exploring adventures. TR had gained wisdom by reading about La Salle's failures and successes which made his expedition have a better percentage for success. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!