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A Wilderness So Immense

The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of America

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Description

In A Wilderness so Immense, historian Jon Kukla recounts the fascinating tale of the personal maneuverings, political posturing, and international intrigue that culminated in the greatest land deal in history. Spanning nearly two decades, Kukla’s book brings to life a pageant of characters from Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Jay, to Napoleon and Carlos III of Spain and other colorful figures.

Employing letters, memoirs, contemporary documents, and a host of other sources, Kukla creates a complete and compelling account of the Louisiana Purchase. From the hinterlands in Kentucky to the courts of Spain, France, and England to the halls of Congress, he re-creates the forces and personalities that turned a struggle for navigation rights on the Mississippi into an event that doubled the size of the country and altered the destiny of the United States forever.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 24, 2003 – Until a better one comes along, which is unlikely, this is now the book to read of the growing crop of works on the Louisiana Purchase in this bicentennial year. It differs from Charles Cerami's bracing Jefferson's Great Gamble (Forecasts, Jan. 27) by its deeper foundation of scholarly knowledge, from Roger Kennedy's overstriving Mr. Jefferson's Lost Cause(Forecasts, Feb. 3) by being less idiosyncratic. Kukla (coauthor of Patrick Henry) offers up a splendid, beautifully written narrative focused tightly on the complex historic origins of the Purchase and on the diplomacy that pulled it off. Necessarily, his tale takes in the whole world, including the aspirations of Napoleon's failed forays into the Western Hemisphere and his resulting need for cash. But Kukla stays firmly on this side of the Atlantic. Jefferson takes center stage, but his Federalist opponents, whose sometimes disunionist machinations kept matters complex, are in the wings. Kukla's portraits of the principal diplomats—Robert Livingston and James Monroe on the American side; Talleyrand, François de Barbe-Marbois and Napoleon on the French—deftly illuminate the crucial mix of personality, circumstance and skill that made the United States a continental nation so early in its existence. Unlike many other historians, Kukla favors none of the story's characters but evenhandedly gives all their due. The book lacks only a grand theme to match its grand subject—what most contemporaries and all historians since have judged to be one of the most significant events in the nation's history. Nevertheless, this judicious, aptly illustrated work will gratify all its readers. Rarely does a work of history combine grace of writing with such broad authority.

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A Wilderness So Immense
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: United States
  • Published: Apr 08, 2003
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 444 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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