CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Newman, Peter C.

Markham (Ont.), Viking Canada, 1987. 352pp. cloth, $25.00, ISBN 0-670-80967-5. Distributed by Penguin Books Canada. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Robin Lewis

Volume 16 Number 4
1988 July

Caesars of the Wilderness begins with a 100-page digression on the history of the North West Company. Newman then skilfully uses that background to enrich his history of the Hudson's Bay Company. He shows the conflict between the two companies as they move toward merger. He also describes the interaction between Canada and America as they avoid merger in the west. The story of the British company's rule over the world's largest commercial empire is told through Newman's interpretation of key personalities involved in the fur trade and the early Red River settlement.

Newman writes popular, well-researched history at as high a level of scholarship as the general public can tolerate; however, this approach inevitably leads to weaknesses of fact, style and balance. (Was gold birch widely used for canoes? I have never seen it in the few relics I have examined.)

The maps in this volume, however, are clear and uncluttered. The black-and-white reproductions, which break up the text, are attractive and appropriate. The chronology and extensive bibliography are very useful. The book is fun to read and is a good starting point for a student of the fur trade or early Canadian history.

Robin Lewis, Riverdale High School, Pierrefonds, Que.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works