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

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted August 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Gellin' with Magellan (Pen name: "Wally")

    If all history were written in the style in which Bergreen takes up the Ferdinand Magellan's pioneering circumnavigation of the world (at a time when seamen still feared either being overwhelmed by sea monsters or falling off the edge of the world), teachers would find many more of their students eager to study history. On practically every page the reader is treated to well researched insights into the state of navigational technology and cartography as well as anthropological awareness in the early sixteen century. Indeed, the reader feels himself a passenger on one of Magellan's fragile ships as the fleet slowly, and at great loss, batters its way through what later would be known as the Straits of Magellan and the tumultuous and unanticipated expanse of the Pacific Ocean for a cargo of spices then worth far more than their weight in gold. The present-day relevance of this extraordinary account becomes apparent as the reader realizes that this early intercontinental exploration parallels, in many ways, the stage we are at and the unknown dangers we confront in present-day interplanetary exploration. Although the frontiers are now incredibly more distant, the courage required of the seamen five centuries ago was no less than that displayed by our astronauts. The reader should be cautioned at the beginning of this book to fasten his/her seat-belt.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2011

    Highly readable, very compelling

    This book had me hooked from the beginning. The oceanic explorers were the most daring people alive in the 16th century and Magellan epitomized the type: driven, intelligent, wily, and strangely also rigid and unbending in many ways that eventually came to undo him. Bergreen is an excellent storyteller weaving the narrative of this journey skillfully with flashbacks and foreshadowing. Highly recommend this book to all interested in the people who dared to conquer the superstition and mystery that was the world.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2008

    A Page Turner

    Over the Edge of the World is a great book that keeps you turning pages. It is written as it could be a novel with great detail but Begreen summarizes each main passage of the importance of what had just happened and why it happened. It is easy to read, and makes you want to keep reading. The subject is very interesting and really brings you back to that time. Highly reccomended

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2005

    Eye-opening account...

    Bergreen's book transported me to the world inhabited by Magellan and his contemporaries...the account is so exciting that it reads like a novel. I agree about the map issue that was brought up by another reader and also found myself wishing there were more maps interspersed throughout the text. However, the maps that were provided were beautifully done.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2009

    Fascinating about the Portuguese/Spain Imperialist Explorers Lost at Sea Seeking the Spice Islands

    This is the first nonfiction sea exploration book I have read (also covers some 15th, and some 16th centuries of sea exploration history) and it was quite detailed in information about the islands/natives the Magellan exploration visited, and the lifestyles of the seamen explorers, most detailed by the Pigafetta seamen explorer scribe on the ship, one of the few survivors. Out of around 5 ships and 226 seamen, only 4 ships and around 18 seamen survived. I did not feel sorry for their problems at sea because of their imperialist attitudes of those times (they felt they could just kidnap natives, and steal from natives). The immature culture of Spain vs. Portugal and visa versa is also covered.

    What I found most interesting was their mentioning of some of the natives on some islands they visited as cannibals, but one wonders if that is what the Magellan sea explorers sometimes gave into since it was the Magellan explorers that were months at sea with shock and awe storms, and at times not reaching a shore for many months and often lacking food (especially meat/fish, citric foods, vegetables) on board the ships. This is not to say they were not wrong about some of the island natives being cannibals, but the possibility that the Magellan seamen were probably such also and projected their cannibalism onto the islanders...

    What also was interesting was the extent the world maps were considered top secret during those times, and people could be jailed for having a world map if they were not tops in the explorer trade. And, the false maps circulated to cover explorers' trails.

    Although the Magellan expedition is known to be the first around the world, I recently saw a program on the Science Channel where a world map was found in South America that had a much more accurate world map (most likely done by indigenous, though the researchers in that science segment thought it might be extraterrestrial) more than 500 years earlier than the Magellan expedition.

    I wonder how long it will be until the Strait of Magellan will just be called the Strait of Brazil, etc.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2005

    Magellan's Fire!

    The words amazing, riveting and gripping are often overused. When it comes to describing the events and characters that undertook the first-recorded European circumnavigation of the globe - no other words would do justice. This is by far the most richly detailed, deeply historic account of the Renaissance equivalent of space travel. No other book has fired my imagination or passion for the history of this period than Bergreen's 'Over the Edge of the World'. If you love adventure, the ocean and a tale as epic as Homer's Odyssey, you will love this book. CS Acta New York, New York

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2014

    Fantastic!

    Very well written. Highly recommemded.

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  • Posted June 10, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    For every Filipino like me, Magellan's voyage to the Spice Islan

    For every Filipino like me, Magellan's voyage to the Spice Islands in 1521 is a very important fact of history. This is because it brought about the first contact between the Orientals and the Europeans, that was recorded. Bergreen's rendition of the voyage is compelling and oozing with very interesting details. From his storytelling we can see the very hard experience that Magellan and his men went through in finding the straight that leads to the Pacific ocean, the Philippines and ultimately: the Spice Islands, the main reason for the trip. Perhaps it will take another decade or two before another book of this caliber will be printed. This is pure history, well researched and interestingly presented for the modern day reader. Aside from the Pigafetta codex, Bergreen has exhausted all the possible sources to write this powerful history of the first voyage around the world or as codex in the Escorial would say "Il Premiere viaggio il mundo",

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2013

    Can a book about Magellan be a page-turner?

    Absolutely yes!! Kept me up for three nights. Amazing. We never learned history the way it is presented here.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2012

    One of my favorite books ever!

    I was instantly caught up in sixteenth century Spanish/Portugal politics, the manners and beliefs of that period, and mostly the amazing quest of Magellan who was obsessed with finding a new route to the Spice Islands. Fiction could never be this good. I was completely caught up with how the sailors felt as they were lost for months on the Pacific, fearful that sea monsters were real or wondering if they would sail off the edge of the world. Their discovery of new lands and people could be compared to space travel for us today and meeting aliens. I couldn't put this book down and recommend it for anyone who loves history, and especially for those who think history is boring.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Best book Laurence Bergreen wrote

    History come to life with interesting stories of courage, daring and discovery at sea. Highly recommended !

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  • Posted September 9, 2011

    Great adventure story and it actually happened, of course.

    I loved this book. It was almost like being with them on the voyage. I kept thinking about it long after I finished reading. Magellan has long been a hero of mine to have pulled off such a daring voyage. I can hardly wait to read Bergreen's other books. wprincess

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  • Posted December 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This book about Magellan exlores all the secrets issues that tried to defeat him.

    This was a great choice for our book club. This well researched account of Magellan's "circumnavigation of the globe" started with all the amazing facts on how hard it was for him to the helm of the fleet and begin this great adventure. It is fitting that Magellan's name is legend. He was scorned by his own king and could never advance in the Portguese court. So he turned to Spain's Queen Isabella and his remarkable voyage begins when he is in his forty's.
    This book reveals much. The author did a lot of translating of old documents. Good thing the Spainard were good a record keeping. But the Porguese were secretive. The author has been able to bring to light many secrets and produce a very readable history.

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    An interesting and absorbing novel.

    It is surprising how ambitious the undertakings of the Spaniards and Portugese were in their early expeditions of discovery. Magellan had an almost self-destructive dynmo. He was jealously and often cruelly guarding his rights as a commander of the expedition.
    His only intent was to claim land and riches for Spain. No matter what the cost.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2005

    What a Journey

    This book is outstanding. It is well researched and well written. It reads better than most novels. It's one of those books that takes hold of your life, and everything else seems to be second to finishing the story. It combines elements of history, psychology, sociology, and just plain, good story telling.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2005

    A Real Life Historical Adverture

    This is the real life adventure story left out of our history class in school. An Armada entangled in mutinies, and storms. Adventurous men battles island warriors and taking treasure. There is never a dull moment. It is true, as another reviewer commented; there is extraneous information, such as the Chinese Treasure Fleet, that might distract readers. I found this information brought me closer to the time of Magellan and the Age of Discovery. These sidetracks added to this magnificent voyage while putting in perspective with other not widely known voyages. This book provides the details to the classroom history book. It is a must read for the why and how of the voyage and the true greatness of Magellan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2004

    wow what a journey

    When I read the New York Times review of Over the Edge of the World I was expecting another rewrite of history that would glorify a murderer along with a vicious culture that enslaved men and contrived to cheat indigenous populations out of their gold and precious jewelry. However I was impressed that Bergreen included the accomplishments of Mariners such as Cheng Ho and the Chinese empire and did not neglect to include the important role that Enrique Magellan¿s slave and the indigenous people of Africa, the Americas, and the Philippines played in the success of the voyage. The voyage itself is relayed in a language that informs while simultaneously allowing the reader to take in the 414 page historical account as one would a great novel or even a movie. I enjoyed this book immensely and as a result I planning to take up sailing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2003

    This is good stuff

    Does a history book have this much right to be a fun page-turner? Yes, and Laurence Bergreen exceeds to great story telling, marvelous adventure, creating a just plain enjoyable read. Taken either as history or read like a novel this is an amazingly detailed telling of three year voyage which ended in 1522 with only one ship and 18 survivors out of the original five ships and 260 who left Spain with this Portuguese Captain. Even the early chapters, which tell how a Portuguese ends up leading the Spanish fleet, is a marvelous story. But in the end, what stays with you is the shear terror, boredom, disease, and strange island customs all left for us to enjoy because of basically one man, Antonio Pigafetta who was taken on to chronicle the voyage and some how managed to survive mutiny, the voyage through the strait, the native peoples defense of their territories (which resulted in the death of Magellan himself), and in the end being cast aside for a more ¿official version¿. Bergreen could not have told his story without Pigafetta and Pigafetta could not have found a better writer to bring his story to a modern audience. I highly recommend this great read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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