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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of Leviathan comes this sweeping narrative of one of America’s most historically rich industries. Beginning his epic history in the early 1600s, Eric Jay Dolin traces the dramatic rise and fall of the American fur trade industry, from the first Dutch encounters with the Indians to the rise of the conservation movement in the late 19th 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 millionaire John Jacob Astor, and mountain man Kit Carson, Fur, Fortune, and Empire is the most comprehensive and compelling history of the American fur trade ever written.
©2010 Eric Jay Dolin (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

“[An] absorbing story…Dolin, author of the acclaimed Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America, offers another good history well told.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A delightful history, reminding readers that while noble ideals led to the settling of the United States, the fur trade paid the bills.” (Kirkus Reviews)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By D. Littman on 07-18-10

a compilation of trivia

A compilation of trivia, in chronological order, does not make good history. You need context, you need to use your core story (in this case, the history of the fur trade) to say something about economic history or cultural history or social history, to write an excellent history book. Even (and perhaps especially) a popular history book. Dolin has failed to do this, I was very disappointed.

The narration is very good. It is not the narration that brings this work down.

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11 of 15 people found this review helpful


By Toni on 08-16-17

Colonialism versus Commerce

Would you consider the audio edition of Fur, Fortune, and Empire to be better than the print version?

I consider the audio version more practical to my needs because I can listen to is while walking the dog, driving across town, and while I do tasks at home. I bought the print version so that I could go back and study parts that I wanted to make sure I understood. Plus I like having access to the visualsI

What did you like best about this story?

This book provides insights into the complexities of ethnicity, social strata, and how commerce expanded cultural exchange and respected the Native knowledge. I found the contrast between how the United States and Canada developed the fur trade thought provoking, in a way that explains the attitudes that continue to haunt us in the United States.

Have you listened to any of Tom Weiner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This is the first time I've listened to one of his performances.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I have an occasional laugh. Mostly I was on the edge of my seat in fascination with the plethora of information that I had never learned. This book has added to much to my understanding of how the United States and Canada developed into world nations, each emerging from a different world view.

Any additional comments?

The chapter on horses was very informative. It was the only place I where I could find specific information about how the Native Americans kept track of their horses. trained them, bread them, and prepared them for

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