Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America

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Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America

Author: Eric Jay Dolin
Publisher: W. W. Norton
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 464
Cover Price: $ 29.95

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Beginning his epic history in the early 1600s, Eric Jay Dolin traces the dramatic rise and fall of the American fur industry, from the first Dutch encounters with the Indians to the rise of the conservation movement in the late nineteenth century. Dolin shows how the fur trade, driven by the demands of fashion, sparked controversy, fostered economic competition, and fueled wars among the European powers, as North America became a battleground for colonization and imperial aspirations. The trade in beaver, buffalo, sea otter, and other animal skins spurred the exploration and the settlement of the vast American continent, while it alternately enriched and gravely damaged the lives of America’s native peoples.

Populated by a larger-than-life cast—including Dutch governor Peter Stuyvesant; President Thomas Jefferson; America’s first multimillionaire, John Jacob Astor; and mountain man Kit CarsonFur, Fortune, and Empire is the most comprehensive and compelling history of the American fur trade ever written.

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Background Information

The European desire for North American furs motivated much of the early exploration and trade in the northern parts of North America. John Jacob Astor, the first of many men to bear the name, made a fortune in the fur trade and expanded it vastly with real estate holdings in Manhattan. Christopher "Kit" Carson was famous guide and explorer in the early American West. The despite the small size of Holland, the Dutch sent out explorers that had a significant impact on the exploration of the New World.