Frank Roberts's Reviews > Holy War: How Vasco da Gama's Epic Voyages Turned the Tide in a Centuries-Old Clash of Civilizations

Holy War by Nigel Cliff
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's review
May 15, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: history
Read in May, 2012

Fascinating account of Vasco de Gama's trailblazing voyages around the tip of Africa and on to India. About the same time as Columbus, Gama's exploits were (at the time) considered more important, as here was a proven path to India, while it was yet unclear what exactly Columbus had found. Within 20 years of Gama's voyage, Portugal had broken the Muslim monopoly on trade with the exotic East, and had established a maritime empire along the coasts of Africa, Asia, and the East Indies. Within 150 years the Dutch and English would come and take this empire, but the pioneering work was done by Portugal. A stirring tale of adventure, danger, diplomacy and battle. And a vivid view of the role faith played.

Vasco de Gama himself comes off as a man of legendary skill and attributes. My favorite anecdote: the Portuguese are caught in an incredible storm in the Indian Ocean, a storm that some surmise to have been caused by an underwater earthquake. With the sea rocking and pitching, Gama calls to his crew: "Courage, friends! The sea itself trembles at our presence!"
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