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Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  9,906 Ratings  ·  770 Reviews
Ferdinand Magellan's daring circumnavigation of the globe in the sixteenth century was a three-year odyssey filled with sex, violence, and amazing adventure. Now in Over the Edge of the World, acclaimed author Laurence Bergreen, interweaving a variety of candid, first-person accounts, some previously unavailable in English, brings to life this groundbreaking and majestic t ...more
Hardcover, 458 pages
Published October 14th 2003 by William Morrow (first published January 1st 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jason Koivu
When you're old like me, you hear stories about these explorers (if ya know what I mean...wink wink), but usually it's a truncated version handed down to you from a school teacher back in the 1970s, who wasn't much more well-versed in the subject than yourself...

"In 1521, Mr. Magellan was the first man to sail around the world. This was at a time when the world was flat, so it was very tricky!"

Okay, my miseducation wasn't as bad as all that. However, it is nice to fill in the gaps of knowledge w
...more
Algernon
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

It was a dream as old as the imagination: a voyage to the ends of the earth.

I could hardly believe this is a non-fiction book. The way Lawrence Bergreen tells it, it rivals the greatest epics of literature, with Magellan a mythical figure to rival Jason or Ulysses. Every word of the book is supported by contemporary documents and whatever speculation was needed in the absence of facts is balanced by presenting the alternative points of view. Bergreen convinced me with his very first book I rea
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Aug 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a must read book for all Filipinos. In elementary school, we are taught to memorize some facts about Ferdinand Magellan and I can still recall having to memorize the date when Magellan landed in Limasawa (Samar) and the 5 ships that were part of his expedition: Trinidad, Victoria, San Antonio, Concepcion and Santiago. Before reading this book, I could hardly recall the differenting facts that happened with each of them. This book described all those together with who Magellan was and the ...more
Brian
Feb 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great adventure by the daring men who first circumnavigated the globe. Interesting lessons that some parties ought to have paid attention to. For example, torture was commonly used for discipline on board ships in the early 16th century--one of the techniques used was adopted from the Spanish Inquisition--it involved pouring water into a man's nose and mouth to make him think he's drowning--sound familiar?

I had long known Magellan didn't complete the voyage--he was killed in the Phillipine Isl
...more
RavenclawReadingRoom
3.5 stars.

This book is well researched and makes for relatively interesting reading. But I think it suffers from a misleading subtitle. I mean, there's nothing PARTICULARLY terrifying about the circumnavigation, other than the fact that no one knew where they were going. And, like, the fact that a bunch of their ships sank. But that almost seems to be glossed over and therefore has very little impact.

The part that was most interesting for me is the sections where the armada reached the Philipp
...more
Louise
May 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third Bergreen book I've read. While all are good and recommended, neither this book on Magellan nor his recent book Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu meet the very high standards of his earlier Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life.

The lay out of chapters, divided every page or so, makes this a faster read than its 400 pages imply. While it's easily readable, it is not totally satisfying. I can't fully identify the problem in separating why this good book (4 star) shouldn't be a ver
...more
Rex Fuller
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Portuguese Navigator, first to sail around the world to establish a westbound route to the spice-rich Moluccas. That’s the schoolbook snap-shot of Magellan. Maybe you also know he didn’t actually make it. Killed in the Philippines. But do you know he had been a soldier who fought in Morroco, India, and the Far East, was many times wounded, and walked with a limp as a result? That he had actually gone to the Moluccas as a member of a Portuguese expedition sailing east? That he tried for years and ...more
Last Ranger
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Over the Edge of the World
Laurence Bergreen

The Days of High Adventure!

Magellan had an idea---sail west from Portugal, somehow get past South America (through a hypothetical straight somewhere south of Brazil), cross the largest ocean on Earth and find the Spice Islands. No big deal. All he had to do was convince the king of Portugal to fund the expedition. When Portugal turned him down he tried Spain and the rest is history. Laurence Bergreen's incredible book takes you on this voyage into the
...more
Elizabeth
Mar 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nf-history
History that reads like fiction -- I got a little bogged down in the beginning with all the Spanish and Portuguese names, but from the launching of Magellans' fleet, his three year odyssey is a fascinating, grim, and vivid portrayal of life at sea, discovery of strange lands and people, and the courage, vision, determination, and fallibility of the expedition leaders. Wonderful source materials (journals) provide amazingly detailed accounts of the dangers and adventures. My daughter gave me this ...more
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Synopsis:
In 1519 Spain and Portugal dominated the seas, and spice, which the author states was the oil of the time, enveloped both countries in an intense rivalry for control of the spice trade. Why couldn't both countries share the wealth? Well, after Columbus had reported his New World discoveries back in 1493 to the Pope, both countries got into it over territory. A bit later the Pope divided the world into two parts, half belonging to Spain and half belonging to Portugal. I had to go and lo
...more
Michael
Dec 25, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When I was about eight I became obsessed with Magellan. I have no idea why as I was an uncurious kid other than my interest in WWII (all the Dads in town were vets including mine) and late-model cars, of which I had an idiot savant's ability to identify by the smallest detail (my sisters would actually try to stump me by cutting out a taillight section or fin from a magazine ad, but I would promptly respond, "62 Rambler Classic in the special trim edition. Obviously").

My Magellan kick abruptly
...more
Zac
Aug 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i was really impressed by this book. i'm not one for history, but again, i'd run out of books and a friend spoke highly of it and lent it to me. not being into history, i just knew that magellan was the guy who first sailed around the world, but this book delves deeper into the political, religious, and financial nuances that the captain general had to deal with, not only to get the voyage funded and underway, but to survive when dealing with "indians" on their own land. The book is based predom ...more
bsc
Nov 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An incredible story. If, like me, you are only vaguely familiar with Magellan's journey, I highly recommend this book. Cannibals, mutiny, starvation, orgies, murder, torture, scurvy, battles...it is all here.
Gerald Sinstadt
Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How 260 men set out from Seville in September 1519 to find a new route to the Spice Islands, and how a mere 18 returned having completed the first circumnavigation of the globe after nearly 60,000 miles and three years is an epic story that has found a worthy author. Laurence Berggreen rewards the reader by marrying scholarly research with eloquent, readable prose.

There is no attempt to portray the achievement as heroic, astounding though it was. This is an account of hardship, disease, torture
...more
Bandar AL Dossari
Laurence Bergreen will make your imagination sale to The worlds of adventures & horrors. Experiencing a truly epic tale & share the feeling of danger and exploring new worlds & encounter with the deferent type of minds, people & their life’s.

I found myself amazed how Magellan was blindly chasing his dreams regardless of the situations he faced such as treason & mutiny among his crew, diseases and starvation. He even adopted nonhumanitarian attitudes in some points in the sake
...more
Scott
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although it seemed as if I were reading a textbook from time to time, especially early on, I really enjoyed Over the Edge of the World.
After learning of the conquistadors while in elementary school, my teacher briefly touched on Magellan's Voyage. I figured that it must have been pretty cut and dried or we would have learned more.
Maybe our ears were too tender for such a bawdy tale or maybe the treachery and broken promises could have influenced us in a bad way. For whatever reason this tale
...more
Bettie☯
Oct 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, history
A good read, however it only gets a 4 star because it was worth a soupçon more than a three and I am feeling philanthropic. It was a little disconcerting that the author could not get his incredulity around the fact that Magellan's demise is still re-enacted annually in the Phillipines - with pride in the act.
Alice Lippart
Captivating and educational. A surprisingly fun read.
Moses
Mar 08, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
(If you don't know the story of Magellan, there are spoilers here.)

Where to begin? This book was terrible. The story of Magellan is interesting, but this author completely ruined it, in my opinion.

First, the author skips around in time so often that I found myself having to stop reading in the middle of a chapter just so I would forget the jarring transitions from being on the ships to loading them with swine before leaving port to suddenly being 1000 miles further along in their journey. Some p
...more
Jeffrey Rasley
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not easy to write history for the general public, which is solid, informative, and an enjoyable read (although, I listened to it as an audiobook). Bergreen's narrative of the Magellan expedition's circumnavigation of the globe in the sixteenth century succeeds. The reader sympathizes with Magellan, but also comes to understand his faults as a commander. Bergreen writes well enough to make a complex historical character come to life. And the facts of the crew's three-year voyage involving ex ...more
Sarah
Apr 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gone
Magellan's voyage in 1519 was not long after the brutal mass eviction of Jews from Spain in 1492 and in the long build up to the terrible removal of 350,000 Muslims between 1609 to 1614. So this book, based on first hand accounts, is particularly interesting as the seamen meet south americans and then many different island communities after crossing the Pacific Ocean. But while the first hand accounts were enough to keep me interested as far as the spice islands, I was then frustrated by the lac ...more
Christine Boyer
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Early ships, ocean navigation, Spain vs. Portugal, world history teachers
Recommended to Christine by: John
This was really 4.5 - excellent! Often, when I read nonfiction, I notice in my reviews that I say something like, "great book, but not for everyone, just those really interested in...". Well, everyone should read this book! Once again, I was put back into the 1500's and reminded of how the world was so very different back then. Also, I am very impressed with this author, Laurence Bergreen. I see in his bio that he has written several nonfiction books on a wide variety of subjects from Louis Arms ...more
Thomas
Nov 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sailbook fanatics
A quick and pleasant listen. The reader's voice doesn't really qualify him to work at SportTalk 101, but I thought he did a good job anyway.

I thought I knew this story, and in some ways I did. The book (probably the abridged version) contains many details not included in the usual narrative. I especially enjoyed hearing about the pre-voyage politics.

Near the end, the author declares that Magellan's voyage had a great influence on the world to come. Yet he gives no convincing arguments to suppo
...more
Fred Donaldson
This historical non-fiction book tells the story of Magellan's journey west to reach the Spice Islands, his discovery of the straight that bears his name, and the crew's return to Spain. Cue sarcasm< Major spoiler: Magellan dies. >End sarcasm. Who knew cloves were such an important spice? Those Europeans must have really liked pumpkin pie. Read a little too much like a history textbook for my taste. I thought the book was pretty dry and I ended up skimming parts. Some objectionable content ...more
Greg Strandberg
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I thought this was a very good book! It follows the journey around the world and you see the viewpoint of the crew. They really wanted to mutiny at times and this was not a walk in the park.

The world political scene and economic realities are all explained, but it's not like a lot of that textbook rubbish you read in school. No, this is what we call interesting.

You know, I'm going up there right now and...yep, I just gave this an extra star.
Laura Leaney
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Patrick Gillogly
An exceptionally engrossing account of Magellan's (and crew) jaw-dropping feat of circumnavigation in a time where the unknowns were pretty much the only thing a captain could count on. Just thinking about navigating a vessel prior to gps, satellites, and an understanding of longitude is enough to make me weak.
Mark
Aug 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you liked "Devil in the White City", "In Cold Blood", or any other non-fiction novel, then you'll probably really like this one. I have a fascination with times past, so this one had my interest before I even read page one. A great read about a very interesting subject, character, and time.
Princess
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy this book and as always learn much more.
Mike Siems
Great book, most of the account coming from Magellan's assistant Antonio Pigafetta. During the expedition, he kept an accurate journal. Pigafetta was one of the 18 men who returned to Spain in 1522, out of the approximately 240 who set out three years earlier. The voyage completed the first circumnavigation of the world; Juan Sebastián Elcano served as captain after Magellan's death. Pigafetta's journal is the source for much of what we know about Magellan and Elcano's voyage. Interesting to lea ...more
Luís Castilho
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is unquestionably the most exciting non-fiction book I ever read about the Age of Discovery or any Voyage for that matter. It tells the baffling tale of the first circum-navigation of the world by boat in the early 1500s through the command of Fernão Magalhães, the Portuguese explorer turned Spanish commander. The Author did an amazing job of creating a book that is both narratively well paced, but also well documented and very very close to its primary sources. It makes for both a compelli ...more
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Laurence Bergreen is an award-winning biographer, historian, and chronicler of exploration. His books have been translated into over 20 languages worldwide. In October 2007, Alfred A. Knopf published Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu, a groundbreaking biography of the iconic traveler. Warner Brothers is developing a feature film based on this book starring Matt Damon and written by William Monahan ...more
More about Laurence Bergreen...

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“Of all the weapons the Europeans brought to the Pacific, guns included, none was more powerful and more capable of effecting lasting change than written language.” 2 likes
“Magellan's thirst for glory, under cover of religious zeal, led him fatally astray.” 2 likes
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