The primary motivations were fame, fortune, and adventure...sometimes all three. But with some of these explorers there was also a sense of duty, the idea that it was their destiny to discover new lands, new trading routes, to further the prominence of their king and country, and to illuminate the dark corners of the planet to solve the geological riddles that had puzzled humanity for eons.
In Paul Herrmann's great synthesis of anthropology, archaeology, medicine, and wonderful narrative history, we discover the story behind the great expeditions. We learn how they were organized and carried out, what happened when Europeans confronted strange and often savage societies, and what happened to these explorers upon their return to Europe. We also learn what impact their discoveries had on primitive cultures and European society. But this history is also much more. The result is an unbelievable picture of mankind swept up in the dramatic passage from enforced isolation to a dynamic worldwide trading network.
Volume 1 follows the voyages of Columbus, da Gama, Magellan, Cortes, Pizarro, and others as the Western hemisphere is discovered and mapped. After Magellan's voyage, the world of trade takes a revolutionary turn and the fortunes of Europe and the Mediterranean are changed forever.
Did you enjoy Volume 1 of The Great Age of Discovery? Then be sure to listen to the conclusion in Volume 2
©2004 Audio Connoisseur
This is one of the best audiobooks I have had the pleasure to listen to since I joined audible. This is a rollicking rendition of the age of exploration. It covers the political, social and economic impact of the discoveries which in fact were profound but unappreciated today in the fog of history. It is also a fine high adventure tale told form the standpoint of the explorers themselves and relates numerous incidents and smaller figures involved in the events that are rarely related in standard texts. What's more, it is all true. The narration is superb. I can't wait for volume II.
This (and the companion second volume) are good listening and provide a wealth of detail about numerous explorers - many you have heard of and several you have not. (Did you know that a Scotsman named Mungo Parks was one of the first great African explorers?)
The narrator has a wonderful British accent which , naturally, makes the text sound very authoritative.
The book was written in 1958. Consequently, some of the hypotheses advanced by Herrmann are no longer viable. For example, recent DNA analysis has disproved the theory of migration from the Americas west to Polynesia [the "Kon-Tiki theory"].
Setting that aside, the book is fun and brings some real insight into larger than life figures like Columbus and Magellan, while introducing a number of explorers history barely remembers.
The final problem with listening to any book involving many geographical references is that the listener does not have the benefit of any maps that the printed version may contain. So have an atlas handy.
I have to agree with both the people who enjoyed this book AND those who noticed that all was not as it seemed. Sadly, if you check the print version of the book, you will note that it was published in 1974. Alas, the good intentions! Every country in Africa should be a first-world econonmic power by now, should you cling to the narrator's zeal for power plants and democracy.
It IS a great listen, though, as long as you are well-informed and have kept up with world history SINCE the Nixon administration. Otherwise, you will be world-class confused.
Criminal defense Lawyer in Las Vegas, Nevada. Read mostly non-fiction.....history, science, military biography. My quirky side likes Zombie Books? Will also pick up a fiction bestseller once in a while. Favorite movie: Being There
I'm a real fan of the European explorers and have read various books on the subject. This book has its good parts, and its problems. When the author sticks to Columbus and Magellan, the narration is relatively informative, although books on those specific explorers will have much more detail. The second half of the book loses the listener. When the author spends time on Cortez and the Aztecs or Pizzaro and the Incas, the book becomes more a history of those indian cultures than a narrative of the explorations conducted by the Europeans. I guess I was expecting an explorer/adventure book and got a dry description of ancient american indian society.
There are also some interesting aspects to this book which I was not expecting. The author is apparently German because he continually tries to inject Germans into the explorer club. I don't doubt that Germans participated and bravely explored in their own right, but they pop up unexpectedly and seem out of place.
Also, the author spends a great deal of time pushing the "Viking" theory of first discovery. And not only of Newfoundland, but as far South as Mexico. I think this is because throughout the book the author gives the feeling that "white men" were specially endowed with the knowledge and courage to explore the world . . . and the "Viking" theory supports this position. For example, the very last sentence of the book mentions the superiority of the white man in becoming the master of the world! Wow, the more I think about it, this book is really outdated.
I almost quit this book near the beginning of its coverage of Cortez. The author's Eurocentric slant was probably more acceptable at the time this book was written, but it chafes in this day and age. I think the Aztecs, and the Toltecs and Maya before them, were perfectly capable of developing their culture without the help of off-course Europeans. Hermann also seems to put the "credit" for the defeat of the Aztecs on their belief that the Conquistadors were, or came from, Quetzacoatl. The Azetecs soon discovered that these interlopers were men with weapons, period. More important in the destruction of the Aztec empire was the impact of European diseases, spreading through Mesoamerica from the time of Columbus. This receives nary a mention.
I wouldn't recommend buying the audiofiles. The narrator has a rather pompous tone that gets quite tiresome. You might do better to read the book, skipping the lecture parts, but I wouldn't recommend even that unless you can find the book in a library AND you're interested in historiography. It's not a bad example of a too common midcentury genre of history.
I think that I should have paid more attention to the subtitle. This book is great and was a very worthwhile listen. The scope was, as advertised, from the late 1400's to the early 1500's. So the "Age" is really a bit narrow in focus.
That said, I fully intend to seek out other books by this author and narrator - it was great in every sense. Exciting, intriguing - a wonderful book.
I never learned anything in detail about the conquest of S. America when I was in school, and who knew we knew so much about Columbus and Magellan, even down to how much of what stores they took on their ships. What emerges from the chapters on Africa is that the interior of Africa might truly be said to have been unknown until the European explorers arrived. It seems unlikely that any one group on the African continent had any handle at all on more than a small fraction of the picture.
Herrmann's post-WW II German prejudices come through in many places - still focused on the role of the European, whether Europeans had ever been in thus and such a place before, are the natives partly descended from Euro's, and so on. Much of the thinking on these subjects in the early to mid 20th centuries seems to have been quite altered in the more than 50 years since the book appeared.
Still, a very interesting read, with lots of human interest and character development of the many explorers he covers.
And Charlton Griffon's exceptional narration is as nearly unexceptionable as I have encountered. My only complaints are variant pronunciations, and occasional apparent lack of preparation in emphasizing the wrong element of a sentence, a flaw I find in most audio readings. And it's all made up for by Mr. Griffon's flawless sense of pacing and passion.
Interesting, if dated, material; well-read; and highly recommended.
Living in an age where true discovery has expanded into the macro and micro age of science, it is refreshing, and indeed exciting to hear about an age where physical exploration with its associated dangers expanded the realm of human knowledge by leaps and bounds, shattering the age-old misconceptions of the nature of man and the enviornment in which he dwells.
This recording of The Great Age of Discovery is very much an adventure story of the highest magnitude, with a wonderful narration by Charlton Griffin.
This reading was so dry I thought I was back in my high school social studies class. While I knew the story of the explorers from school I was hoping that this book would expand my understanding of the times. Sadly, this was not so. All I learned was that pepper became a commodity and a lot of people got syphilis.
The book covers many of the big events and characters of the early European discoveries. Throughout it is enjoyable with interesting detail whilst not becoming bogged down - it has a sense of movement fitting for a book on adventurers. It made me interested in visiting some of the locations.
This gave me an understanding of events that I knew little about, other than that they happened. The most enlightening part was Columbus' early explorations and the time spent discussing what was seen (or not seen) on the horizon and how it played on the minds of the captain and the crew.
In terms of duration, the book is substantial and not very well segmented by Audible's chapter splitting.
The author tops and tails the book with references to Germany, without much mention between. It's odd until you realise that the original book was written in German for the German market. Also, there are some odd references that seem to jar with modern culture like "noble savages" but may be explained by the book being written in the 1970s. (To be clear, I don't think that there was any malice in the use of this term).
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