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Review of A Man Called Baraboo: The Life and Travels of an 18th Century Voyageur

Discussion in 'Books, Videos, and the Like' started by Joseph Breitenstein, Dec 9, 2011.

  1. Hi all,

    I thought it would be interesting to share informal, supportive reviews of materials of interest that we may not encounter otherwise. It seems like if we are not paddling canoes, working on canoes or talking about canoes, then we are reading, etc., about them. Below is a book I found of great interest. I hope to read similar reviews to expand my reading options. Hopefully this area of the forum could also serve as an eventual reference point for those just starting out, as I see many replies to new members referencing the same books. In addition to other reviews, I thought it would also be fun and informative to read other supportive responses to the same materials. Thanks, Joe

    The book:
    Title: A Man Called Baraboo: The Life and Travels of an 18th Century Voyageur
    Author: M. Richard Tully
    Publisher: Ballindalloch Press
    Pages: 192

    My perspective:
    I am a recreational canoeist laboring through his first wood/canvas restoration and a native Wisconsinite. I am reviewing this book from the perspective of a casual reader.

    My description/review:
    Tully becomes consumed with the origin of the name “Baraboo, Wisconsin” and begins a 20-year odyssey researching the voyageur that was most likely the origin of this eventual city. His research is both academic but very practical. For example, he traces the lineage of the voyageur Barbeau via genological and other historical documents like maps, journals, wildlife inventories, visits to fort sites, etc., but does so in parallel with his personal passions of collecting and recreating artifacts from the era like clothing, arms, money, games, and even songs.

    He personally visits the French Canadian origins of the journey and traces much of the journey’s path. All of this allows the reader to gain a really good appreciation of the daily life of a voyageur, from the dangerous to the mundane, and what it was like to be among the first Caucasians to overwinter in this area of South Central Wisconsin that most likely assumed his name. Maps from the period, drawings of the journey and pictures of the artifacts are all very helpful in bringing the story to life. The book also appears to be comprehensively referenced and he respectfully addresses alternative conceptualizations.

    All of this is done within the broader contexts of the sadly realistic interface of voyageurs with Native Americans, the eventual devastation of fur resources and leading the onslaught of Western Civilization upon this crucial area of what was then the frontier. The canoes, of course, play a central role in Barbeau’s travels, and fellow WCHA members will find fascinating details about their favorite craft. My advice would be not to start reading this book right before you intend to fall asleep, because you probably will become quickly engrossed and be up most of the night reading. I found it to be both a highly informative and easy, entertaining read. I recommend it highly.
  2. pklonowski

    pklonowski Unrepentant Canoeist

    Thank you for this... I think I might have to pick this up!
  3. Andy Hutyera

    Andy Hutyera The Red Canoe Guy - Life Member

    Thanks for posting. The idea of posting book reviews here is very welcome. Most of us have favorite books we've run into and are looking for new ones to read. I hope this turns into a regular feature!

    Thanks again!

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