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A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New Worldby Tony Horwitz
With the same sly humor and neighborly curiosity he brought to Confederates in the Attic and Blue Latitudes, in A Voyage Long and Strange Tony Horwitz roams the New World, surveying the destinations of history's foremost explorers: Leif Eiriksson (Newfoundland), Columbus (the Dominican Republic), Coronado (the Great Plains of America), and De Soto (Florida), to name just a few. What do North Americans think of those explorers now, anyway? Ride along with Horwitz — but let him suffer the sweat lodge alone — and discover for yourself.
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Signature Reviewed by Robert Sullivan As opposed to the Pilgrims, Tony Horwitz begins his journey at Plymouth Rock.Plymouth Rock is a myth. The Pilgrims — who, Horwitz notes, were on a mission that was based less on freedom and the schoolbook history ideas the president of the United States typically mentions when he pardons a turkey at the White House and more on finding a cure for syphilis — may or may not have noticed it. In about 1741, a church elder in Plymouth, winging it, pointed out a boulder that is now more like a not-at-all-precious stone. Three hundred years later, people push and shove to see it in summer tourist season, wearing T-shirts that say, 'America's Hometown.' Which eventually leads an overstimulated (historically speaking) Horwitz to come close to starting a fight in a Plymouth bar. 'Not to Virginians it isn't,' he writes. 'Or Hispanics or Indians.''Forget all the others,' his bar mate says loudly. 'This is the friggin' beginning of America!'A Voyage Long and Strange is a history-fueled, self-imposed mission of rediscovery, a travelogue that sets out to explore the surprisingly long list of explorers who discovered America, and what discovered means anyway, starting with the Vikings in A.D. 1000, and ending up on the Mayflower. Horwitz (Blue Latitudes; Confederates in the Attic) even dons conquistador gear, making the narrative surprisingly fun and funny, even as he spends a lot of time describing just how badly Columbus and subsequently the Spanish treated people. (Highpoint: a trip to a Columbus battle site in the Dominican Republic, when Horwitz gets stuck with a nearly inoperable rental car in a Sargasso Sea of traffic.) In the course of tracing the routes of de Soto in, for instance, Tennessee, and the amazing Cabeza de Vaca (Daniel Day Lewis's next role?) in Tucson, Ariz., Horwitz drives off any given road to meet the back-to-the-land husband-and-wife team researching Coronado's expeditions through Mexico; or the Fed Ex guy who may be a link to the lost colonists of the Elizabethan Roanoke expedition.Horwitz can occasionally be smug about what constitutes custom — who's to say that a Canadian tribe's regular karaoke night isn't a community-building exercise as valid as the communal sweat that nearly kills Horwitz early on in his thousands of miles of adventures? But as a character himself, he is friendly and always working hard to listen and bear witness. 'I hate the whole Thanksgiving story,' says a newspaper editor of Spanish descent, a man he meets along the trail of Coronado. 'We should be eating chili, not turkey. But no one wants to recognize the Spanish because it would mean admitting that they got here decades before the English.' Robert Sullivan is the author of Cross Country, How Not to Get Rich and Rats (Bloomsbury)." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Travel journalism is a lot like traveling salesmanship — lots of windshield time, bad food and people who really don't want to talk to you. Tony Horwitz gamely forges on, without a limo or tour guide waiting at the airport. He rents his own cars and drives himself to the nearest saloon or hardware store in search of a loquacious local, who then becomes the reader's tour guide as well. For Horwitz,... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) this serendipitous working style means subjecting himself to the vicissitudes of Third World car rental and roadside diner food, the boredom of the American highway and the torments of thin-walled motels. For readers, it unearths some gems. Horwitz attacks an unwieldy subject, the pre-Mayflower explorers of the New World, by visiting the modern locations where his subjects actually walked, fought and sometimes died. The geographical and topical canvas is vast and the narrative jumpy. He follows his explorers in roughly chronological order, leaping through and over and around whole swathes of time and peoples. His protagonists are the Vikings, Columbus, Coronado, De Soto, Ponce de Leon and then briefly the British explorers Sir Walter Raleigh and Capt. John Smith. In a note on sources, Horwitz, a former correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and author of the best-selling 'Confederates in the Attic,' explains that he chose these men because of his 'reporter's love of paper trails' — in other words, the myriad other explorers, whom he ignores, didn't take notes. He tells us he embarked on this vast, diffuse trek to fill in the blanks in his own historical education — although as a motivating force this excuse seems rather limp in comparison to his need to have a book idea. Horwitz traveled from Newfoundland to the Dominican Republic, throughout the American South and Southwest and up to New England, vastly different zones once equally uncharted, now distinct and unrelated. On the road, he spent part of his time reading historical books informing him of what happened in these spots, and then part of his time seeking out guides who led him to the sites, or shared the local lore as it has been handed down through the centuries. He has an ear for a good yarn and an instinct for the trail leading to an entertaining anecdote, and he deftly weaves his reportorial finds with his historical material. Hunting Columbus' bones in the steaming Dominican Republic, he stumbles into the largest, emptiest museum he's ever entered, beneath a monstrous, cross-shaped, unlit lighthouse (the impoverished country can't pay the electric bill) meant to commemorate Columbus. Inside, there's a room dedicated to and decorated by each nation. China put up Ming vases, Russia sent nesting dolls, but the United States — corn? Airplanes? No. The most powerful nation on Earth devoted its wall space to photographs and headlines of 9/11. Horwitz is filled with 'mortification,' he writes. 'In a venue designed to promote global amity and understanding, the United States chose to emphasize how divided and troubled the world remained.' The book is packed with unexpected observations of that ilk and odd characters — taciturn, talkative, vaguely threatening, helpful, funny, dour, none of the above. Horwitz's quixotic quest for historical information led him to obscure state parks and landmarks as he searched for graves and bones. He found an infested swamp in backwoods Florida where conquistador De Soto erased an entire Indian tribe. He traveled to a slag heap of rocks in a permanently frozen spit of land in Canada where the Vikings settled briefly back in the Dark Ages. He was summoned into a pointless interview with a dignitary at the precise moment when Columbus' bones were being briefly revealed and, to his fury, missed the spectacle. Seeking verisimilitude, he donned suits of armor, sat in sweat lodges and attempted to get lost (as the Spaniards did) in a re-grown patch of tall Kansas prairie grass. Inevitably, Horwitz confronts the dark under-history of European exploration — the slaughter of the aboriginal Americans. At first, they are just pinpricks of blood in his telling — a vanished tribe in Canada, another erased in the Caribbean. Then he goes mainland with the conquistadors, and the stain spreads until it becomes the red backdrop to the entire book, a story of murder, torture, treachery and enslavement that wiped millions of people from the face of the Earth. Because the book is styled as a lighthearted personal and historical adventure, the reader ultimately staggers into a kind of moral disorientation. Ever the detached observer, he intersperses accounts of Coronado and De Soto slaughtering or enslaving hospitable Indians from Arizona to Florida with amusing tales of encounters with modern-day barflies and park rangers within miles of what must be mass graves. Driving across America — he logged a circuitous 3,000 miles in the South and West alone — Horwitz muses on the paradisiacal visions that drove 16th-century Europeans through mosquito jungles and waterless desert: 'This willfulness spoke to a late-medieval imagination that I couldn't wrap my modern mind around. Seven Cities of Gold, the Isle of the Amazons, El Dorado — these weren't wild fantasies to the Spanish, they were vivid realities, just waiting to be found.' In the end, this romp through the 16th century will be an amusing addition to a summer beach bag, although one wishes Horwitz had expressed his own mission as succinctly as he does his subjects'. Nina Burleigh is the author of 'Mirage: Napoleon's Scientists and the Unveiling of Egypt' and the forthcoming 'Unholy Business: A True Tale of Faith, Greed and Forgery in the Holy Land.'" Reviewed by Nina Burleigh, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"[I]nformative, whimsical, and thoroughly enjoyable....As always, Horwitz writes in a breezy, engaging style, so this combination of popular history and travelogue will be ideal for general readers." Booklist (Starred Review)
"This readable and vastly entertaining history travelog is highly recommended." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"[A] funny and lively new travelogue...popular history of the most accessible sort. The pace never flags, even for easily distracted readers, because Horwitz knows how to quick-cut between historical narrative and a breezy account of his own travels." Andrew Ferguson, The New York Times Book Review
"Irreverent, effervescent....Accessible to all ages, hands-on and immensely readable, this book invites readers to search out America's story for themselves." Kirkus Reviews
"A Voyage Long and Strange — disturbing, honest, wonderfully written, and heroically researched — should be required reading in every high school in the land." The Boston Globe
"As Horwitz travels from sea to shining sea in search of historical truth, his prose varies from uplifting to sluggish. Only a true history buff will devote the effort needed to see it through." Rocky Mountain News
"Horwitz's charm, smarts, impeccable research and curiosity make this a voyage worth taking. Gentle and funny, he manages to tell us just how astoundingly ignorant we are without chiding us at all." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"[Horwitz] brings history to life with brio, he ponders its meanings with sensitivity, and he laments its general neglect with concern. By conveying our past so heartily, handsomely and winsomely, Tony Horwitz does America proud." Providence Journal
"By turns history and travelogue...instructive and charming. Horwitz sure can spin a yarn. He re-creates the wonder — and the horror — of the explorers' encounters with exotic creatures. And his thumbnail sketches of the first-comers are tight and bright." Baltimore Sun
Book News Annotation:
Between Columbus in 1492 and the Mayflower in 1620, Horwitz discovered, most Americans carry a gap in their knowledge. A Massachusetts-based journalist and popular historian, he backfills with a history of mainly Spanish exploration, conquest, and settlement. He draws on contemporary accounts, but places them in an account of his own travels to such places as Vinland, the Caribbean, the southwest, the Mississippi River, and Jamestown. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The bestselling author of Blue Latitudes takes readers on a thrilling and eye-opening voyage to pre-Mayflower America. An irresistible blend of history, myth, and misadventure, A Voyage Long and Strange captures the wonder and drama of first contact.
W hat happened in North America between Columbus's sail in 1492 and the Pilgrims' arrival in 1620?
On a visit to Plymouth Rock, Tony Horwitz realizes he doesn't have a clue, nor do most Americans. So he sets off across the continent to rediscover the wild era when Europeans first roamed the New World in quest of gold, glory, converts, and eternal youth. Horwitz tells the story of these brave and often crazed explorers while retracing their steps on his own epic trek--an odyssey that takes him inside an Indian sweat lodge in subarctic Canada, down the Mississippi in a canoe, on a road trip fueled by buffalo meat, and into sixty pounds of armor as a conquistador reenactor in Florida.
A Voyage Long and Strange is a rich mix of scholarship and modern-day adventure that brings the forgotten first chapter of America's history vividly to life.
The acclaimed author ofAre We Rome?brings his highly praised blend of deep research, colorful travelogue, and insightful political analysis to a new history of the Inquisition.
We think of the Inquisition as a holy war fought in the Middle Ages. But, as Cullen Murphy shows in this provocative new book, not only did its offices survive into the twentieth century, in the modern world its spirit is more influential than ever. Traveling from freshly opened Vatican archives to the detention camps of Guantánamo to the filing cabinets of the Third Reich, he traces the Inquisition and its legacy.
God’s Juryencompasses the diverse stories of the Knights Templar, Torquemada, Galileo, and Graham Greene. Established by the Catholic Church in 1231, the Inquisition continued in one form or another for almost seven hundred years. Though associated with the persecution of heretics and Jews—and with burning at the stake—its targets were more numerous and its techniques more ambitious. The Inquisition pioneered surveillance and censorship and “scientific” interrogation. As time went on, its methods and mindset spread far beyond the Church to become tools of secular persecution.
With vivid immediacy and authority, Murphy puts a human face on a familiar but little-known piece of our past, and argues that only by understanding the Inquisition can we hope to explain the making of the present.
About the Author
Tony Horwitz is the bestselling author of Blue Latitudes, Confederates in the Attic, and Baghdad Without a Map. He is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has worked for The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker. He lives in Martha's Vineyard with his wife, Geraldine Brooks, and their son, Nathaniel.
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