Horwitz decides to find out, and in A Voyage Long and Strange he uncovers the neglected story of America's founding by Europeans. He begins a thousand years ago, with the Vikings, and then tells the dramatic tale of conquistadors, castaways, French voyageurs, Moorish slaves, and many others who roamed and rampaged across half the states of the present-day U.S. continent, long before the Mayflower landed.
To explore this history and its legacy in the present, Horwitz embarks on an epic quest of his own - trekking in search of grape-rich Vinland, Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth, Coronado's Cities of Gold, Walter Raleigh's Lost Colonists, and other mysteries of early America. And everywhere he goes, Horwitz probes the revealing gap between fact and legend, between what we enshrine and what we forget.
An irresistible blend of history, myth, and misadventure, A Voyage Long and Strange allows us to rediscover the New World for ourselves.
©2008 Tony Horwitz; (P)2008 Random House, Inc.
This was an exceptionally compelling read/listen. A couple of years ago I read/listened to a book called "Lies my teacher told me ..." and while it was compelling I felt it was too personalized and reactionary from the authors perspective and sought to vilify any and all Europeans that forded the "new world". This book has similar content but the author leaves a lot to the reader to assess on their own regarding the historical first days of the American epoch. For me I was taken back to the roots of American culture both pre and post European "contact". The author has done a great job taking you down the paths of famous conquistadors and Native Americans ... it's very easy to conjure the struggle these brave men and women went through in fairly vivid detail. While this abridged version is thorough, it is not the "hard core" history some advanced historians may require to be completely convinced of the book's legitimacy. That being said, there are some gaps to be filled and references to follow up on to have a complete picture of the events outlined in this book. Over all I enjoyed every moment of this book and was left wanting more stories of a truly "magical" time in history.
I enjoyed every minute of this audiobook. Horwitz reads his own stories, as he describes European contacts with the "New World" prior to the Pilgrims' famous Plymouth landing. The contacts are numerous and varied. Horwitz made his own research voyages to the locales of these centuries-ago contacts, talking to the people who live there today as well as to experts on the location's history and archeology - often the locals are also the experts. Listening to Horwitz's stories of the people he meets during his parallel voyages is every bit as interesting as the historical records he describes.
Tony Horwitz provides in "A Voyage Long and Strange" not so much a history as a historical/travelogue related to our early history.
Specifically, this book is Horwitz's attempt to fill in the "gap" in knowledge about the period bewtteen Columbus' landing in 1492 and the arrival of English settlers at Jamestown. Sound dull? It really isn't and Horwitz makes it so interesting that the era will come alive. This, for me, was a very satisfying listen and I suspect that others will not be disappointed.
This book is well read and wonderful to listen to. There are surprises at every turn. Even those with little or no interest in US History (perhaps their love for the topic was killed early in school), might well test the old ears with this one.
The book provides a wonderful reminder of the earliest instances of European contact with the new world, providing excellent accounts of the pre-Mayflower period, too neglected in the history studies of most Americans. I would recommend the book to those who would like to better understand the earliest history of the development of the New World by Europeans.
I would have been happier with a bit less on the present-day goings on at many of the sites discussed in the book and the detailed descriptions of activities of some of the descendants of the earlier peoples. Frankly, a very long discussion of the process of sitting in a smoke-filled, very hot tent as some sort of reenactment of an old ritual was pretty boring.
The few negatives I perceived were far outweighed, though, by the positives.
Tony Horwitz is a better writer than he is a narrator. I found his voice and spoken style (and too-frequently mispronounced words) to be a bit grating. The audio book would have benefitted form a better narrator.
But it is DEFINITELY worth your time.
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