A Voyage Long and Strange

May 27, 2008


A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horwitz

Greetings all.
I first heard about Tony Horwitz’ new book ‘A Voyage Long and Strange’ a few weeks back via an article in the New York Times. I’d been looking forward to reading it since then and finally grabbed it during a book excursion last week.
Horwitz, who’s ‘Confederates in the Attic’ I read (and enjoyed immensely) some years ago has a great way of immersing himself in historic/cultural subjects. It should be obvious to anyone with access to cable news channels that here in the early part of the 21st century, people have a way of approaching and interpreting history from a wide variety of angles/biases, often including or excluding facts so that the image presented fits our individual world views more comfortably.
Horwitz manages to look at his subjects through many of these facets and come out in the end with – if not the definitive result – at least one with a more acute focus that we’re accustomed to.
‘A Voyage Long and Strange’ is an examination of the neglected history of exploration and discovery of the Americas prior to (and including) the landing of Columbus in the ‘Indies” and in the time between his journeys and the landing of the Pilgrims just over a century later.
Though many of the names (like Coronado and De Soto) were familiar I had no idea how amazing (and often tragic) their stories were, or how many attempts (and motivations) there were to settle the continent before things really took hold.
Horwitz is both an excellent reporter and storyteller, and even if you have only passing interest in the history, the stories are so gripping and revealing that you’ll find yourself drawn in, as well as marveling at how “history” has been manipulated over the centuries to conform to certain religious/racial/cultural narratives.
Do yourself a favor and set aside a week this summer to read both ‘A Voyage Long and Strange’ and Daniel Boorstin’s ‘The Discoverers’ (a source for Horwitz) and prepare (unless you’re a graduate student of history) to have your mind – if not completely blown – at least expanded considerably.
Highly recommended.

Now reading – The Great Derangement – by Matt Taibbi

One comment

  1. I also loved “Confederates in the Attic,” so I guess I’ll have to check this one out!

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