Books·Canadian

Bush Runner

Bush Runner is a nonfiction book by Mark Bourrie.

Mark Bourrie

Known to some as the first European to explore the upper Mississippi, and widely as the namesake of ships and hotel chains, Pierre-Esprit Radisson is perhaps best described, writes Mark Bourrie, as "an eager hustler with no known scruples." Kidnapped by Mohawk warriors at the age of fifteen, Radisson assimilated and was adopted by a powerful family, only to escape to New York City after less than a year. After being recaptured, he defected from a raiding party to the Dutch and crossed the Atlantic to Holland — thus beginning a lifetime of seized opportunities and frustrated ambitions.

A guest among First Nations communities, French fur traders, and royal courts; witness to London's Great Plague and Great Fire; and unwitting agent of the Jesuits' corporate espionage, Radisson double-crossed the English, French, Dutch, and his adoptive Mohawk family alike, found himself marooned by pirates in Spain, and lived through shipwreck on the reefs of Venezuela. His most lasting venture as an Arctic fur trader led to the founding of the Hudson's Bay Company, which operates today, 350 years later, as North America's oldest corporation.

Sourced from Radisson's journals, which are the best first-hand accounts of 17th century Canada, Bush Runner tells the extraordinary true story of this protean 17th-century figure, a man more trading partner than colonizer, a peddler of goods and not worldview—and with it offers a fresh perspective on the world in which he lived. (From Biblioasis)

Bush Runner is on the 2020 RBC Taylor Prize shortlist. The winner will be revealed Mach 2, 2020.

Interviews with Mark Bourrie

At a time when most Europeans died within a day's journey from where they were born, Pierre-Esprit Radisson criss-crossed the Atlantic 10 times, was adopted into an Iroquois family and was kidnapped by pirates. Historian Mark Bourrie documents the explorer's adventure-filled life and counters stereotypes about the entire colonial epoch - especially Iroquois society - in his book, Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson. 53:59

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