TheDolin’s book is on the fur trade of old in America. He talks of how pelts were processed into beautiful attires that were covetedhighly. Eric Jay Dolin in his book talks of how people are involvedmore in ethnic discords as opposed to attributes popularly expectedin the trade such as ambition and competition. He concerns himselfprimarily with the trade in North America between the 17th and late19th centuries, from European colonization to post- RevolutionaryAmerica’s colonization of its own Western interior. His book couldbe described as interesting and satirical with a sense of humor andunstoppable passion.
Hestates that the fur trade shaped the American History. He also claimsthat fur trade dominance in different states and spurred thecolonization of Eastern North America. Dolin talks of how muchgrappling among nations was caused by the quest for pelts of thebeaver. He talks of the clash of empires that led thecontinent in cruel warfare during the colonial era and in thetumultuous wake of independencethat arose from the fur trade.
Dolinalso talks of how countries contested for 250 years over dominationand control of North America and its natural resources.
Theauthor supports his thesis by giving the example of the SupermodelNaomi Campbell on how she learned from her blood-diamond imbrogliothat the Earth’s bounty isn’t always as unspoiled as it appears.He says that she would be less consoled in knowing that she was notthe first person to divest a natural wonder of such great magnitudein human misery.He, however, says that from his work, she might acquire a deeperunderstanding of why her critics have judged her so harshly.
Dolintalks of America’s precious beaver, sea otter and buffalo peltsthat made people across the globe get meaningful relationships withthe natural environment. He says that, they too, enriched and adornedpeople separated by thousands of miles from a world of hurt.
Hishighly praised book, “Leviathan” on U.S. whaling is one of hisresearch source material as he highlights on America’s prowessacross the globe. This helps him build body on the earlier work thatforms the backbone of his subject issue the fur trade in America.
Americanhistorical books, especially on revolution were also part of hisresearch material as he mentions several people like Thomas Morton,Captain James Cook, John Jacob Astor, Kit Carson and Jedediah Smithwho are key figures in this trade. Accounts of the different rolesthat this person played were recorded in different texts and as suchit is conclusive to say that he has used several historical booksespecially on trade.
Dolin’sbook was written so that the readers could understand it, as in hisbook, he observes that there are hundred thousand or even millions ofAmericans who can trace their ancestry back to an era from the 1600sto 1800s that included whites, blacks, Indians and many others whowere involved in fur trade.Dolinalso states Naomi Campbell from his book could have a deeperunderstanding of why her critics have judged her so harshly, meaninghe believes and anticipates that his book is very comprehensible forone to be able to draw such truths in life from it.
Dolinshould have explained what gave the Americans the upper hand in thefur trade. He talks about how as the American settlers moved West,the fur trade widened out and how the sea otters became the new,desirable commodity not only because of the fact that it came invariety of colors- brown, reddish brown or black, but also on thedifferent types of hair and the density of the hair on its body.
Hehighlights the fact that buffalo fur was coveted abroad and ineastern cities, but doesn’t clearly explain how the trade wasaffected by the rise in demand for the sea otter pelts. He would havealso explained on the density of buffalo fur and its availability fortrade as opposed to the sea otter fur. Dolin should have relatedLewis and Clark’s work, John Ledyard and John Jacob Astor’s workand what factors could have made John Ledyard attempts to fail ascompared to Astor.
Howdid the Americans overcome the competition from China, Japan, andRussia?
Thebook, “The American Promise”, talks about how the promise of awealth of furs in the Rocky Mountains, which was the strongest magnetthat drew Euro-Americans into the Trans-Missouri West after 1807.LikeDolin, it states that the promise was based partly upon imaginationand aspiration: the belief that the unknown recesses of Louisianaheld riches in abundance. Associated with the lure of the RockyMountains was the search for the passage to India, which GoldenFleece of Euro-American exploration (Wishart 89).
Itfurther talks of how Lewis and Clark had attempted to forge atrans-continental passage that could be used to channel furs from theupper Missouri to the mouth of the Columbia and thence to Canton.This Northern route was in time proved to be impractical because ofthe contorted physiographic of the northern Rocky Mountains, theextended lines of transportation, and the opposition of the Blackfootand Arikara.Nevertheless, the passage to India remained a persistentvision that lingered in the background of the fur trade.
Thisbook, like Dolin’s talks of Astor’s quest for wealth in the furtrade as it talks about his plan to establish an international tradeempire pivoted at the mouth of the Columbia River.This book could berecommended to another student or teacher as it is an interestingwork that relates the history of trade to day to day experiences asit highlights the quest for power and control in the trade ((Dolin72).
Italso shows how certain events could help in understanding of somefundamental details of one’s life. An example how the fur tradecould help Americans trace their origin by understanding therevolution of the fur trade. This aspect makes it easy to relate howall continents are interrelated as most origins were traced based onhistorical events including migration.
Itis interesting to read this book as it doesn’t have unnecessarydetails that could make comprehension hard.
Unlikeother historian’s, Dolin emphasizes on continuity which is one ofhis great virtues.
Hedescribes in detail people involved in the trade expansion, whichmakes understanding of the book easier.Furthermore, this historicalpiece brings to life the American experience in fur trade thusshowing its role in making the United States of America the nation itis today (Dolin 68).
Wishart,David J. TheFur Trade of the American West,1807-1840: A Geographical Synthesis. Lincoln: University of NebraskaPress, 1992. Print.
Dolin,Eric J.Fur Trade in America.New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2010. Print.