By Sigrid Pilgrim
Some of you may remember the reenactment of the Marquette & Joliet Expedition by Ralph Frese, which in turn lead to La Salle: Expedition II, a reenactment of the 1681-82 voyage of La Salle from Montreal to the Gulf of Mexico for which Ralph also built the six canoes.
I just received a copy of the book that Craig Howard wrote about LaSalle II and it is such fascinating reading that I could not put it down. Although I am not quite through (it’s over 300 pages) since Amazon just delivered it two days ago, I would urge anyone interested in not only history, but also learning more about Ralph, and most importantly, the incredible journey that the crew of seven adults and sixteen teenage boys accomplished, to read this book. Reading about the three-year preparation in the selection of the crew, the interpersonal relationships among the expedition members, and the hardships encountered during this 3,300 mile journey, have left me almost unable to put the book down.
I learned of the book by chance, after PaddlingLife.net published the summary of this year’s Des Plaines Marathon event. The book’s author, Craig Howard, saw the item and subsequently contacted the editor, who forwarded me his note. I asked Craig how he was able to write this book and here is his response:
“Like the expedition itself, it was a team effort. Many people pitched in to tell their stories. My job was to stitch together their stories, to let them tell it as it was, and to keep the heck out of their way. Many things deserve to be remembered, and this expedition is one of those. Shakespeare’s Marc Antony spoke the truth of it in Julius Caesar: ‘The good (that men do) is oft interred with their bones.’ Expedition II falls into this category.”
Postscript: A second book on the LaSalle II Expedition has been written by Lorraine Boissoneault, who will talk about it in a presentation October 20, at the Evanston History Center. See details here (scroll down 1/2 page)