Philip Marchand
Books & Reviews
Ghost Empire: How the French Almost Conquered North America
McClelland & Stewart (Toronto), 2005
Praeger (Greenwood, Conn.) January 2007
Les Presses De L'Université Laval (Quebec). Translated into French by Anne-Hélène Kerbiriou. 2008.

A mix of history, travelogue and memoir, Ghost Empire follows the footsteps of the great 17th century explorer La Salle around the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi, in search of the enduring legacy of the French on this continent. Among the phenomena chronicled are public muskrat dinners in southern Michigan, medieval French celebrations of New Year's in small town Missouri, and the enduring vitality of pre-and post Katrina New Orleans.

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"North America has its forgotten histories, and most prominent among them is of the French and their close relations with the natives of the continent. Philip Marchand's Ghost Empire makes the ghosts of that history vivid, not only in terms of the haunting past, but in terms of the haunted descendants. A French North America was a world that might have been, a world fascinating for what it promised and what, by its defeat, was lost. Ghost Empire is a revelation."
David Plante, author of The Family, Difficult Women and American Ghosts: A Memoir

"Philip Marchand's achievement amounts to historical literature of a very high order. In its way, it is an example, or even a forerunner, of a new genre: a compound of historical reconstruction and of its writer's emphatic participation in his subject. The result is masterful and authentic. Its sense of what happened and what that meant (and still means) is more than informative; it breathes through the climate of Marchand's fineness of writing."
John Lukacs, author of A History of the Cold War, The Passing of the Modern Age, The Hitler of History, Democracy and Populism: Fear and Hatred.

"An amazingly fresh, surprising take on North American history…It reads like a Canadian version of Heart of Darkness.
Globe & Mail, October 8, 2005

"Ghost Empire made me understand North America differently; it has some of the impact of Pierre Berton's best books, but is more personal, at times even spiritual, in its consideration of place, identity and possibility.
Books in Canada, November, 2005.

"What Marchand delivers doesn't have a dull moment in it. Canada's last book critic, it turns out, is among its best writers. Highly recommended, even if you're not normally interested in history."
Vancouver Review, Spring 2006

"Goes a long way in reclaiming a portion of La Salle's legacy for all Canadians."
Maclean's, October 24, 2005.

"A gripping historical read."
Montreal Gazette,  November 5, 2005

"An engaging and satisfying travelogue/memoir that charts the journeys of 17th-century explorer Robert de la Salle to arrive at an understanding of modern-day French culture across the continent." National Post, December 10, 2005.

"An idiosyncratic and engaging read…a big-hearted book which serves as a reminder that 'our existence is richer than we know.'"
Canadian Geographic, December 2005

"If it's possible for people to internalize their history, then here is an inveigling and thoughtful example from the book critic of the Toronto Star."
Booklist, April 1, 2007

"This is a hugely ambitious effort, and I think he gets the overall story just about right."
Clark Blaise, Critical Mass (the blog of the national book critics circle board of directors), October 2, 2007.

"Ghost Empire: How the French Almost Conquered North America is an outstanding survey which tells of the explorer La Salle, murdered by his own men but a key figure in claiming land for France in 1682...In presenting the story of LaSalle's achievements and speculating on what could have been, an exciting alternative history is created which weaves past and present in a powerful account of conquest, culture and change. A top pick for both college-level American history collections and any general interest public library strong in lively, thought-provoking American history surveys."
Midwest Book Review, September 2007.

How to order Ghost Empire: How the French Almost Conquered North America

The new U.S. hard cover edition can be purchased directly from its publisher, Praeger. Log on to The Canadian trade paperback edition of Ghost Empire — not available in the United States — is now on sale in bookstores in Canada.



Ghost Empire: How the Fench Almost Conquered North America (mcClelland & Stewart, 2005)


Ghost Empire: How the French Almost Conquered North America (Praeger, 2007)


L'Empire Fantôme: de ces Français qui ont failli conquérir l'Amérique du Nord (Les Presses de l'Université Laval, 2008)


© Philip Marchand. All rights reserved.