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A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the…
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A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World (2008)

by Tony Horwitz

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Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
When the author realized he didn't really know anything about European history in America between Columbus and Jamestown, he decided to go looking. I had a similar hole in my education, so it was fun to join him on the journey. From the Vikings through Columbus, the Conquistadors, the French, and the early English, this book covers a whole lot of events rarely discussed in elementary school. There is, of course, a whole lot of barging in on native people and slaughtering them wholesale, but it's not all dark. In fact, some of it is quite pleasant, and there's even a fair bit of humor. Recommended. ( )
  melydia | Feb 17, 2019 |
The settlement of North America by Europeans did not begin with the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. A whole lot of exploration and settlement took place before that, and all this is the subject of a fascinating book by Tony Horwitz, “A Voyage Long and Strange” (2008).

Americans make a big deal about the Pilgrims, but Horwitz wanted to know about those explorers and settlers who came before. He wanted to, as much as possible centuries later, walk in their footsteps and see what they saw.

It is not a pretty picture, which may be why most Americans, including most American history teachers, choose to ignore it, or at least gloss over it. By 21st century standards, these were not nice people. They lusted after gold. They robbed, raped, enslaved and massacred the native people they encountered. They didn't even behave kindly toward their own people, as in the case of the Roanoke settlers who were abandoned.

Horwitz begins with the Vikings, who explored and founded short-lived settlements in the northeastern regions of the continent around the year 1000, then turns to Christopher Columbus, who succeeded "because he was so stubbornly wrong." He died believing he had found a new route to India. After that Horwitz examines such explorers at DeLeon and DeSoto and the settlements in St. Augustine and Jamestown.

But Horwitz looks not just at the past but also at the present. He travels to places that may (or in some cases may not) have been visited by these people, looks for remnants of their time there and talks with both scholars and people who now live in these areas to get their take on the past. Much of this is written in the manner of Bill Bryson, full of information presented in a wry and whimsical way.

As important as history may be, Horwitz concludes by stating that myth may be more important. It feels good to ignore a "monstrous man" like DeSoto and failed settlements where so many people died and focus instead on myths about Pilgrims. (They weren't called Pilgrims until many years later, they had a feast but didn't make a big deal out of it, the Indians were uninvited guests, they probably ate venison and fish but not turkey, etc.) As journalists like to say in jest, why let the facts get in the way of a good story? ( )
  hardlyhardy | Nov 15, 2018 |
Like most US citizens my age, I was taught a rather vague history of our country in which Columbus proved that the world wasn't flat by discovering America, which, after an inexplicable gap of some 130 years, was settled by pilgrims on a quest for religious freedom. I suppose it is because we are so young when we are taught this, and because it is repeated ad nauseam throughout our lives, that we never question this rather bizarre narrative.

In a book that is part travelogue , part history, and part social commentary on our modern relationship with that history, Tony Horwitz examines the European explorations which preceded Columbus and continues up to the arrival of the pilgrims. He tells not the story we are most commonly told of an unending series of back-to-back successes by brave explorers, but rather the fuller and more accurate story of invaders who suffered many losses before they finally conquered an already occupied land. In the process, he corrects many of the most enduring yet fallacious myths regarding the occupation of the "new world" and gives us in exchange a more honest history and a richer understanding of who we are today. ( )
  Zoes_Human | Jun 3, 2018 |
Staggered by his lack of knowledge about the discovery of America, Horwitz travels around and interviews scholars, historians, and ordinary people about the Vikings, Columbus, the Conquistadors, the Native Americans, and the Pilgrims, trying to separate myth from history. Easy to read and informative as well as hilariously funny. ( )
  Mrs_McGreevy | Nov 17, 2016 |
Joy's review: Horwitz looks at what happened in North America from the Vikings to the Pilgrims and intersperses history with his own travels to the same places today. He is a most entertaining writer and someone I would love to travel with. Some stories I knew, some were new to me, but all were interesting and well worth reading. ( )
  konastories | Jul 1, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
Never mind his Pulitzer, the best-selling books, the writing jobs at The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker: Tony Horwitz is a dope. Really, he’ll tell you so himself, and often does, though not in so many words, in his funny and lively new travelogue, “A Voyage Long and Strange.”
 
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"Mistakes . . . are the portals of discovery." James Joyce, Ulysses

"Pray look better, sir," quoth Sancho, "those things yonder are no giants, but windmills." Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote
Dedication
To Erica and Josh, bread in the backseat sandwich of our childhood travels.
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The pilgrims didn't think much of Cape Cod.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805076034, Hardcover)

The bestselling author of Blue Latitudes takes us on a thrilling and eye-opening voyage to pre-Mayflower America

On a chance visit to Plymouth Rock, Tony Horwitz realizes he’s mislaid more than a century of American history, from Columbus’s sail in 1492 to Jamestown’s founding in 16-oh-something. Did nothing happen in between? Determined to find out, he embarks on a journey of rediscovery, following in the footsteps of the many Europeans who preceded the Pilgrims to America.

An irresistible blend of history, myth, and misadventure, A Voyage Long and Strange captures the wonder and drama of first contact. Vikings, conquistadors, French voyageurs—these and many others roamed an unknown continent in quest of grapes, gold, converts, even a cure for syphilis. Though most failed, their remarkable exploits left an enduring mark on the land and people encountered by late-arriving English settlers.

Tracing this legacy with his own epic trek—from Florida’s Fountain of Youth to Plymouth’s sacred Rock, from desert pueblos to subarctic sweat lodges—Tony Horwitz explores the revealing gap between what we enshrine and what we forget. Displaying his trademark talent for humor, narrative, and historical insight, A Voyage Long and Strange allows us to rediscover the New World for ourselves.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:08 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

An irresistible blend of history, myth, and misadventure, A Voyage Long and Strange captures the wonder and drama of first contact. Vikings, conquistadors, French voyageurs--these and many others roamed an unknown continent in quest of grapes, gold, converts, even a cure for syphilis. Though most failed, their remarkable exploits left an enduring mark on the land and people encountered by late-arriving English settlers.--From publisher description.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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