Glenn Moore reviews 'Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the making of America' by Michael A. McDonnell

Glenn Moore reviews 'Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the making of America' by Michael A. McDonnell

Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the Making of America

by Michael A. McDonnell

St Martin’s Press $49.99 hb, 416 pp, 9780809029532

Michael McDonnell knew he had a bestseller on his hands. Historical biographies regularly top the New York Times bestseller list, and his research uncovered a larger than life figure named Charles de Langlade. Born in 1729 to an Indian mother and a French-Canadian father, Langlade grew up straddling two cultures, but that did not stop him from becoming a leader of the Anishinaabeg, a linguistically connected group that included tribes like the Odawa (Ottawa) and the Ojibwe.

Forrest Gump-like, Langlade seemingly appeared at every turning point in the French and Indian War. Indeed, his raid on a British trading post helped trigger the war. He led the Indian warriors at the 'massacre' of Fort William Henry and fought in the battle for Quebec, where he was rumoured to be the sharpshooter who killed the British General James Wolfe. After the defeat of his French allies, Langlade shifted allegiance to the British, fighting against the Americans in the Revolutionary War. Once again on the losing side, he recovered, establishing a trading post on the site of present day Green Bay, earning him the title, 'Father of Wisconsin'.

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Published in May 2016, no. 381

Glenn Moore

Glenn Moore has taught American history at the Australian National University, the University of Western Australia, Melbourne University, and La Trobe University. He has written on American sport and labour history, teaching American history to Australian students, with a recent book on the potential and applications of experiential learning.

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