Customer Reviews for

A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World

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  • Posted October 29, 2009

    A look back

    Mr. Horwitz is a very good writer. Not humorous like Bryson, detailed like Thoreux, touching like Mayle. He is a no nonsense, this is what I see, reporter. A voyage Long and Strange is a journey from the Vikings exploration of Newfoundland to the English settlement of Jamestown, covering a period of history lacking in available sources. While a common thread exists throughout these early explorations and colonizations, that being the death and destruction of the indigenous people, it is not a book on genocide but a reporting of facts as gleaned by the author. Sort of a modern day "You Are There". His relating of the heros and bums, the successes, mistakes and failures, the lessons learned and unlearned, make for fascinating reading. From Ponce de Leon to Pochahantas the thirteen chapters of history and current observations provide insight and knowledge into the early european history on this continent. Highly recommended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2009

    Pre-Columbus history of USA lands

    When I read the outline on B&N before buying, I thought this sounded like the very thing I had always wondered about our country before the arrival of Columbus. The author, Mr. Horwitz, did some astounding research--literally trekking by car and on foot, to see the land/trails and talk with locals about historical facts/myths. His writing is full of detail and his story has humor in things as they happened to him. If you like history and would like to learn more about the USA before Columbus and the Pilgrims, I would recommend this book.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2008

    The history you never knew, but always wanted to know.

    This is a great book to read if you're interested in the history of pre-colonial America. Very well written and thorough, this history book is interspersed with travel writings from the author. He visits the places he researches and documents the modern views of the natives. Beware though, many myths are debunked in this so only proceed if you don't believe ignorance is bliss.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Very enlightening...

    I really, really like this book. The book's subtitle is "Routes of the North American Explorers" and Horwitz actually physically follows those routes. In the prologue we find the author visiting Plymouth and to his surprise, finding that Plymouth rock looked more like a "fossilized potato!" After conversing with a local park ranger, Horwitz begins to realize that there is a century of lost historical information commonly left out between 1492 (the sailing of Columbus from Spain) and 1620 (the accepted date for the arrival of the pilgrims to Plymouth). The author then begins his own journey and investigation into the actual European explorers and the routes they took. His journey actually begins with the Vikings c. 985 in Newfoundland. Horwitz describes the Norse encounter with the native peoples as recorded in Norse sagas. I found it quite interesting to hear how they described the native peoples as ugly, screeching wretches-- "short, dark and evil-looking with coarse hair and broad cheek-bones." As the author points out, "To native eyes and ears, the Norse--pale, hirsute, long-faced, and speaking a strange tongue--must have seemed like ugly screeching wretches, too."
    Horwitz then takes the reader on the routes of Columbus, the Spanish conquistadors, the French Huguenots, and English settlers. He includes maps and engravings contemporary to the times.
    I had my interest piqued many times along with my desire to learn more about the history surrounding each route. The savagery and greed that accompanied these voyages was not a surprise and yet still caused me to shake my head with disgust. There are also comical moments--or should I say moments of irony. If you read the book, you will find them and understand.
    I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the true history of America as we know it. It is not a comprehensive historical narrative but it does describe the routes taken by European explorers in a way that is very, very interesting and informative.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2009

    Entertaining and original, sometimes polemic, but excellent Americana

    Horwitz sets the record straight on many long-known and long-ignored aspects of US history, including the role of the Conquistadors and those who followed them. In the latter parts he has difficulty maintaining the momentum of early history. His personal voyages in the Southwest may be interesting but they're really not part of the same message. Despite that this is an important book for interested Americans to read. They'll learn more about early North American history, but next to nothing about the countries that were settled and developed much earlier than the US, such as Cuba and Brazil.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting

    Upon a visit to Massachusetts, Tony Horowitz is awed when he sees Plymouth Rock not out of it being grand sort of an American Gibraltar, but to realize it is not much more than a pebble. As one child points out, the Pilgrims must have had small feet to land on that rock. Tony reflects on what he knows about American history only to draw major blanks for over a century and half from Columbus until Jamestown. What frightens Tony is that he graduated with a history degree. Thus he vows to track the story of the European explorers who traveled American even before Columbus. Starting with the Vikings and following with the French and Spanish, Tony tracks those who came before Jamestown.------------ With a nod to Mr. Wuhl¿s HBO special Assume The Position, Tony Horowitz goes on a reverent journey tracing the paths traveled by European explorers between 1492 and 1607. On his trek, Mr. Horowitz meets many people with a differing interpretation of events like the Spanish (St. Augustine was founded forty-two years earlier than the Plymouth Rock landing) came before the Pilgrims so America should celebrate Thanksgiving with Chili. This is a fun travelogue as Mr. Horowitz¿ enthusiasm and energy add to the enjoyment quoting Mr. Wuhl: 'I shit you not'.--------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Horwitz writes another unconventional read

    I am already a Horwitz fan, having read and reread Confederates in the Attic. I happened to see this on the discount shelf at B&N, so I snatched it up. It is excellent.

    Hortwitz finds himself, a history major, sadly lacking in any real understanding of America's earliest explorers and settlers (we're talking pre-Columbus, pre-Pilgrim). He goes on a quest, of sorts, to track down the obscured stories of America's real early explorers, in all their colorful, baudy, violent blend of reality and myth. Hint: it includes Vikings who settled in Canada, Spaniards who explored the Great Plains, and Frenchmen who founded cities in Florida.

    Most people find history, especially the version of early U.S. history we all learned, stale. Hortwitz's style of writing is engaging and just fun. He doesn't give you a history lecture, but more of a travelogue of the places and people he finds during his trips across Canada and America.

    History lover or not, you'll love this book. It's a true laugh-out-loud read that teaches you what you wish history class in grade school could have been about.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

    Simplistic

    I guess if your think that Columbus was the first this book would be enlightening, or if you never paid any attention in history class and never watched any of the science/history channels on tv (too busy with sitcoms and American idol) this book would be helpful. It is one step above grade school history.
    Any avid reader of history or precolumbian exploration will be very disappointed in this book.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    For the Truth Seekers

    Half history book, half travel journal; Tony Horwitz rediscovers early American history by retracing the steps of the early settlers. Starting with the Norse in 1000AD up to the Pilgrims, Tony investigates the unadulterated history of our past. Always interesting and sometimes disturbing, ranging from topics such as the Spanish Conquistadors to the first Thanksgiving, this book will shake the foundation of what you thought you knew. Beware though- there are some hard truths in this book that most people may not be able to handle. But if you are the kind of person who doesn't believe that ignorance is bliss, then this book is for you.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 19, 2010

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    Posted May 14, 2010

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    Posted February 15, 2010

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    Posted March 1, 2009

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