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

A Voyage Long and Strange by Tony Horwitz
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's review
Jan 23, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, sa-indie-picks, 1500s, 1600s, historical, road-trips, 1400s, humor
Recommended to Catherine by: Kate
Read from January 18 to February 09, 2011

I thoroughly enjoyed this irreverent legend and myth-busting historical travelogue which looks at US exploration primarily from Columbus in 1492 to the Pilgrims in 1620. My favorite parts were the road trips in which he attempts to follow the paths of the early explorers and compares their impressions with his own, 400-500 years later.

Horwitz digs for the facts behind (or buried or well-commercialized fantasy) the explorations of Discovery -- Vikings, Columbus (including a mention of the fucu from which Oscar suffers in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. The Conquest -- the crusading zeal of the Spanish, Cortes, Ponce de Leon, Cabeza de Vaca, Coronado, and De Soto; and the Settlements of the French in Florida, the English in Jamestown and Roanoke in Virginia and finally, the Pilgrims at Plymouth.

Some quotes I especially liked:
"Americans didn't so much study history as shop for it." "The past was a consumable, subject to the national preference for familiar products. And history, in America, is a dish best served plain. The first course could include a dollop of Italian in 1492, but not Spanish spice or French sauce or too much Indian corn. Nothing too filling or fancy ahead of the turkey and pumpkin pie, just the way Grandma used to cook it."

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Reading Progress

01/19/2011 page 47
11.0% "Here I am, once again, starting more books than I can finish in a reasonable time, but this one seems not only interesting (history and exploration 1500-1600s) but entertaining as well. Loved this: 'Natives [were rude and uncivil] .... Verrazzano called this "Land of Bad People," a name since changed to Maine.'"
01/22/2011 page 95
21.0% "Finished the chapter about Columbus and his failings as well as the fact he never even got to the continental US."
01/28/2011 page 164
37.0% "Now reading about Coronado, he doesn't come right by my house, but he did come through Arizona and appropriately I'm using a Hotel Del Coronado bookmark."
02/01/2011 page 220
49.0% "Fascinating story of the mapping of De Soto's route through the south in this Chapter #8, The South: De Soto Does Dixie. 4* so far."
02/04/2011 page 265
60.0% "I'll be looking for more Tony Horwitz when this one is finished. He's entertaining, often humorous, and travels around to the sites and trails of the early explorers. My kind of tourism! Ready to start Part 3: Settlements, starting with a French Huguenot settlement in Florida in 1564."

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