Cover image for Despite all obstacles : La Salle and the conquest of the Mississippi
Despite all obstacles : La Salle and the conquest of the Mississippi
Goodman, Joan E.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Mikaya Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
47 pages : color illustrations, maps ; 27 cm.
A biography of the man who explored the St. Lawrence, Ohio, Illinois, and Mississippi rivers, and who claimed America's heartland for King Louis XIV and France.
General Note:
Map on lining papers.

Includes index.
Reading Level:
980 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 7.0 1.0 60311.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 6.9 3 Quiz: 33725 Guided reading level: NR.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F352 .G66 2001 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography

On Order



To say that Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle was determined is like saying the sun is warm. La Salle made his way from Eastern Canada to the Great Lakes. Then he traveled by canoe down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. This vast territory was dense unexplored wilderness, controlled by the fierce and powerful Iroquois. To make the merely daunting nearly impossible, La Salle was on his own. His King, Louis X1V, would provide neither protection, men nor money.

Through one setback after another, La Salle kept on going. His men deserted him; he walked a thousand miles, in the middle of the brutal Canadian winter, back to Montreal and organized a new expedition. The Iroquois threatened; he brought together rival tribes, and speaking in their own language, united them into an alliance against the Iroquois. La Salle's ship sunk with a fortune in furs meant to finance his expedition. Again, he walked back to Montreal and found new financial support.

Part adventure, part biography, Despite All Obstacles is the fascinating story of this obstinate and courageous man who had dreams as large as the continent and a will to match those dreams.

Author Notes

Joan Elizabeth Goodman is the author of Beyond the Sea of Ice , and A Long and Uncertain Journey , the first two books in the Great Explorer series. She lives in New York City.

Tom McNeely is one of Canada's leading illustrators and recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Association of Photographers and Illustrators in Communications. He lives in Toronto.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3-6. This well-designed book from the Great Explorers series presents the life of explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. The smoothly written text begins with the triumphant La Salle standing on a rise, watching the Mississippi flow into the Gulf of Mexico and claiming the heartland for France, from the Alleghenies to the Rockies, from Canada to the Gulf. From that point, Goodman relates the challenges of La Salle's early years and the difficulties of his later life, communicating what made the man an extraordinary adventurer while acknowledging the personal flaws, errors in judgment, and harsh circumstances that sometimes led to unfortunate and even tragic results. Boxed quotations from letters, speeches, and journal entries give voice to La Salle and his contemporaries. Full-page or double-page paintings, often handsome and dramatic, brighten most spreads in this fully illustrated book. --Carolyn Phelan

Publisher's Weekly Review

The latest installment in the Great Explorers series, Despite All Obstacles: La Salle and the Conquest of the Mississippi, by Joan Elizabeth Goodman and illus. by Tom McNeely, traces the life and journeys of the intrepid French explorer Ren-Robert Cavelier, better known as La Salle. McNeely's watercolors effectively evoke the frontier landscape, and a cleverly designed fold-out map allows readers to follow expedition routes alongside each page of text. ( Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-In this smooth, well-written, and fact-filled title, Goodman traces the life of La Salle from his birth in Rouen, France, through his historic adventures down the Mississippi. Excerpts from letters, diaries, and journals of the man and his contemporaries are sprinkled throughout the book and will be a bonus for those who need original documents. While the author acknowledges that "Many of the sources quoted in this book were written by men hired to join La Salle's expedition as chroniclers," there is no bibliography. McNeely's masterly full- and double-page paintings of the participants in the adventure depict the costumes and accoutrements of the era. A clear, easy-to-follow map of La Salle's voyages appears in gatefold form in the beginning of the book; unfortunately, it may be overlooked by some readers. Nonetheless, this attractive picture-book biography would make a good choice for libraries.-Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Introduction "In Adversity he was never cast down and always hoped with the help of heaven to succeed in his enterprises despite all the obstacles that rose against it." Chronicle of La Salle's Last Expedition by Father Anastasius Douay On April 9, 1682, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, stood on a small rise of dry land where the great muddy Mississippi poured its waters into the Gulf of Mexico. He had changed his travel-worn shirt for a coat of brilliant red, kept especially for this moment of glory. By him stood his two closest companions: Nika, the Shawnee, and Henri de Tonty, his lieutenant. Father Zenobe Membré was there to bless their endeavor. Around them stood twenty-two Frenchmen and a small traveling village of Abenaki and Mohican who'd come with La Salle on the final leg of a journey begun, and interrupted, many times over the past five years. Against incredible odds, La Salle had conquered the mystery of the mighty river that cut through the middle of America. Others had traveled it before him, but he was the first European to follow its course from its juncture with the Illinois River to its conclusion in the Gulf of Mexico. His mission was a complicated endeavor, every bit as difficult for its time as launching a space station is today. Only La Salle wasn't NASA. He was just one man. He alone negotiated with the French monarchy to get the necessary approval. He raised the funds, hired the men, and organized food, shelter, and supplies for the expedition. At the mouth of the Mississippi, the men raised a tall, straight tree and carved on it the arms of Louis XIV, the dazzling Sun King, the greatest ruler France had ever known. La Salle stretched out his arms and claimed the entire Mississippi River basin from north to south, and from the Alleghany Mountains in the east to the Rockies in the west, for Louis and France. It was the huge midsection of the great North American continent, an area more than double the size of France. Here was a gift fit for a great king. Spain had the riches of Mexico; England had the Atlantic coast; now France would have the heartland of America. Excerpted from Despite All Obstacles: La Salle and the Conquest of the Mississippi by Joan Elizabeth Goodman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.