The Sieur de La Salle's story begins in 1682, when he sets out with twenty-two Frenchmen, eighteen Indians, and his always - grumbling, epileptic cartographer, Pierre Goupil, to chart the length of the Mississippi River. In the course of this breathtaking novel, we see early America as seldom before. This is a world as foreign to us as any, for, as John Vernon points out, "the map of North America, so etched in our imaginations, with the great furrow of the Mississippi River running down the center of it, did not yet exist for these colonists." For them, North America is a vivid and dangerous dream of hardship, madness, and poetry. Not simply an adventure story, "La Salle" is an epistolary novel in the best eighteenth-century tradition. John Vernon has ingeniously molded historical facts into a set of diary entries by La Salle and Goupil. In their often conflicting and always vigorous styles, the two describe their journey into the wilderness and a world in which the reason and religion of Europe have no place. First published in 1986, "La Salle" is a classic of American historical fiction now available in this "Bison Books edition". John Vernon is a Distinguished Professor of English at Binghamton University and the author of ten books, including a book of poems, a memoir, and five novels. His most recent novel, "The Last Canyon", is the story of John Wesley Powell's first trip down the Colorado River. Sue Peabody is an associate professor of history at Washington State University and the author of "The Color of Liberty: Histories of Race in France".