Tuesday, July 05, 2005

History is fun!

Recently, in my local Barnes and Noble (corporate death of little bookshops, but God help me I love them so) I saw a display with a new history of the Acadiens and decided to pick it up. And it turns out pretty much everthing I thought I knew about "Le grand derangment" (the Cajun term for the 1755 ethnic cleasing of the Acadiens by the English and Americans) was incorrect. Being a Cajun, I am now a little bit ashamed that I knew so little about my heritage, but I feel I have filled in some huge gaps in my knowledge of my history.

But this book was no slog through names and dates. A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French Acadians from Their American Homeland (full title) was first and foremost a great story. Intellectually stimulating but not dry, the author John Mack Faragher places you at the center of this time when the English, French and Americans were staking out their claims to empire, and the people of L'Acadie were pawns in this larger game. Few books have ever taught me more.

On a personal note, it was also exciting to learn that my wife's family line was literally the first to settle in Acadia (The Guilliame Trahan family was the first family to settle in the town of Port Royal and his son and son-in-law founded two other major Acadian towns- Grand Pre' and Beaubassin).

If you are a Cajun or have Acadian roots, this is a must read book. And if you're just a fan of well written history, then this is a great way to pass these long summer days.


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