If anything is clear to the student of the history of the early modern French colonial enterprise, it is the need for a general overview to equal Boxer's and Parry's fine volumes on the Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish seaborne empires, or George Winius' volume in the Minnesota series. Not that such volumes on the French colonies do not exist, in French. Indeed, there has not been a decade since the 1920s without some such publication. None of them, however, appears to me to be wholly satisfactory. The glorification of the French ‘mission’ characterizing the earlier works nowjars; the more recent works are more balanced, but still, on the whole, too descriptive. This is particularly the case for the Histoire de la France coloniale, des origines à 1914. While the authors responsible for the period which interests us, Jean Meyer and Jean Tarrade, have produced distinguished works on the French overseas empire, their survey remains somewhat uncritical and, at least for the seventeenth century, very thin. As to the treatment of New France, it draws on a rather unreliable series of monographies.