Nicole's Reviews > A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World

A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horwitz
Rate this book
Clear rating

F 50x66
's review
Jun 09, 2012

it was amazing
Read in June, 2012

If I could take a half-star off, I might have simply for the fact that I found the writing confusing in places, especially around chronology. Occasionally when discussing his own travels, the author tells events slightly out of order, as if he's just remembered something he should have mentioned a few pages back. And in the very first chapter, it got so hard to follow the Eriksons bouncing around between Norway, Iceland, and Greenland that I was very apprehensive about how the rest of the read was going to go.

I shouldn't have worried. This was a fascinating book that taught me a lot about the early exploration of the New World. He ends the book where many people think the story begins, with the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock. As it turns out, by the time they arrived in 1620, there was practically a Starbucks there. They'd been beaten to North America by other English settlers, Frenchmen, Spaniards, and, almost a thousand years earlier, by Vikings. The author tells us about these different groups of explorers as he retraces many of their steps, making this book an engaging combination of travelogue and work of history.

Early New-World settlers might sound like a dry topic, but the author is good at extracting narrative out of what could just be dry fact, and is very funny, to boot. At times he reminds me of Bill Bryson, although he's not that zany. Like Bryson, he also seems to have a gift for meeting strange and wonderful people who enliven the narrative while also giving lots of different perspectives on the topic at hand.

In the end, I felt like I had not just learned a lot of new information about how and when Europeans came to the United States. I had also started thinking about why it is that some barely true stories, like Ponce de Leon and his stupid fountain, capture our imagination while other major explorers are nearly forgotten. Ultimately, this is a book about how early European explorers of America shaped our current national identity. The author does so in a very interesting, apolitical and nonjudgmental way, and I would recommend this book to anyone who has any kind of interest in early American history.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read A Voyage Long and Strange.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.