Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Shipping News" and "Brokeback Mountain" tells the story of two penniless young Frenchmen arriving in New France in the late seventeenth century. Bound to a feudal lord for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters--"barkskins." One man suffers extraordinary hardship and is forced to marry a Native American woman, and their descendants live trapped between two inimical cultures. But the other, crafty and ruthless, runs away, becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business. Proulx follows the descendants of these two men over 300 years, detailing their travels across North America to Europe, China, and New Zealand under stunningly brutal conditions, the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, and cultural annihilation.