COMPAs much as I love reading epic scholarly books about history, there really is nothing better than reading original texts of people who lived in the past. By reading their writings, especially journals, you can really get a feel for a person and the era in which he/she lived.

Such is the case with the wonderful A Company Man: The Remarkable French-Atlantic Voyage of a Clerk for the Company of the Indies, a memoir by Marc-Antoine Caillot. Caillot’s original 18th Century manuscript – just waiting to be discovered in the dusty archives – has been given new life in a freshly edited book by Erin M. Greenwald, translated by Teri F. Chalmers and with an exquisite design by Alison Cody.

Through Caillot’s eyes you can journey back to a time when just about everything in the New World was being seen, and documented for the Old World, for the first time. Captured here are Caillot’s observations upon sailing up the Mississippi into New Orleans long before it was part of what would become the United States.

About A Company Man: The Remarkable French-Atlantic Voyage of a Clerk for the Company of the Indies, a memoir by Marc-Antoine Caillot: “Recently rediscovered and never before published, Marc-Antoine Caillot’s buoyant memoir recounts a young man’s voyage from Paris to the port city of Lorient, across the Atlantic to Saint Domingue, and up the Mississippi River to New Orleans. Only twenty-one when he set sail as a clerk for the French Company of the Indies in 1729, Caillot was in many ways the ultimate company man. His descriptions of flora, fauna, and native peoples mirror the sentiments and literary conventions of his class and his era. He would spend his entire adult life in service to the company, rising high in its ranks before dying, at the age of fifty-one, in a shipwreck off the coast of India.”

Caillot’s life, spent in service for “the Company”, is one that novels are based on. As if his life of travel was not thrilling enough, he met his ultimate demise in a shipwreck, of course.

A Company Man: The Remarkable French-Atlantic Voyage of a Clerk for the Company of the Indies, a memoir by Marc-Antoine Caillot is available from Amazon and other fine book retailers.