By James P. Ronda
In examining the ways in which Astor's Pacific Fur Company attempted to create the first American empire west of the Rockies, Ronda offers new interpretations of Astoria's origins, of Astor's role as an imperial strategist who negotiated with the Russian American Company and fought with the archrival North West Company, and of his intricate schemes to save Astoria from ruin during the War of 1812. Astoria and Empire draws on important archival sources only recently discovered, including Duncan McDougall's journal, which allows the reconstruction of daily life at Astoria. If the book is a study of rival empires, it is also a social history of exploration and the fur trade. Richly detailed, it teems with Indians of many tribes and international cast of traders, naval officers, diplomats, and rogues. They act on a historical stage stretching from Russia and the Orient to North America and from New York, Washington, and St. Louis to Astoria, the crossroads of an empire.