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A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World

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Overview

On a chance visit to Plymouth Rock, Tony Horwitz makes an unsettling discovery. A history buff since early childhood, expensively educated at university—a history major, no less!—he’s reached middle age with a third-grader’s grasp of early America. In fact, he’s mislaid more than a century of American history, the period separating Columbus’s landing in 1492 from the arrival of English colonists at Jamestown in 160-something. Did nothing happen in between?

Horwitz decides to ...

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Overview

On a chance visit to Plymouth Rock, Tony Horwitz makes an unsettling discovery. A history buff since early childhood, expensively educated at university—a history major, no less!—he’s reached middle age with a third-grader’s grasp of early America. In fact, he’s mislaid more than a century of American history, the period separating Columbus’s landing in 1492 from the arrival of English colonists at Jamestown in 160-something. Did nothing happen in between?

Horwitz decides to find out, and in A Voyage Long and Strange he uncovers the neglected story of America’s founding by Europeans. He begins a thousand years ago, with the Vikings, and then tells the dramatic tale of conquistadors, castaways, French voyageurs, Moorish slaves, and many others who roamed and rampaged across half the states of the present-day U.S. continent, long before the Mayflower landed.

To explore this history and its legacy in the present, Horwitz embarks on an epic quest of his own—trekking in search of grape-rich Vinland, Ponce de León’s Fountain of Youth, Coronado’s Cities of Gold, Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colonists, and other mysteries of early America. And everywhere he goes, Horwitz probes the revealing gap between fact and legend, between what we enshrine and what we forget.

An irresistible blend of history, myth, and misadventure, A Voyage Long and Strange allows us to rediscover the New World for ourselves.   

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Like most of us, Tony Horwitz clings to a "great moments" view of American history. He knows that Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492 and that Jamestown was founded in "sixteen-oh-something." Between those dates, Horwitz can probably envisage nothing more spectacular than Native Americans hunting quail and huddling around campfires. To gain a more precise perspective, the author of Blue Latitudes embarked on a sometimes arduous, sometimes whimsical journey of rediscovery. Along the way, he tracked the metaphorical footsteps of the numerous Europeans who preceded the Pilgrims and the Virginia settlers.
Andrew Ferguson
…[a] funny and lively new travelogue…popular history of the most accessible sort. The pace never flags, even for easily distracted readers, because Horwitz knows how to quick-cut between historical narrative and a breezy account of his own travels. It's the same method he used in [Confederates in the Attic,] deployed with the same success, and unlike many other, less journalistic histories, in which the material is displayed at a curator's remove, it has the immense value of injecting the past into the present—showing us history as an element of contemporary life, something that still surrounds us and presses in on us, whether we know it or not. Usually not.
—The New York Times
Nina Burleigh
Horwitz traveled from Newfoundland to the Dominican Republic, throughout the American South and Southwest and up to New England, vastly different zones once equally uncharted, now distinct and unrelated. On the road, he spent part of his time reading historical books informing him of what happened in these spots, and then part of his time seeking out guides who led him to the sites, or shared the local lore as it has been handed down through the centuries. He has an ear for a good yarn and an instinct for the trail leading to an entertaining anecdote, and he deftly weaves his reportorial finds with his historical material…In the end, this romp through the 16th century will be an amusing addition to a summer beach bag
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Horwitz was a smart choice to read his wonderful book about all he-and we-didn't know about American history, and he's done an excellent abridgement , choosing parts from his long work that work best in audio form. This is as far from a series of history lectures as most listeners could hope. Imagine meeting the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Confederates In The Attic at your favorite coffee shop and listening to him tell you, with a voice filled with amazement, a few of the surprising things he learned after visiting Plymouth Rock and realizing how little he knew of what happened in America before the Pilgrims arrived. This audio experience will have listeners hoping for a refill with Horwitz. A Holt hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 10).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Realizing that his knowledge of American history between Columbus's discovery and Plymouth Rock over 100 years later was sketchy at best, Pulitzer Prize-winning former journalist Horwitz (Confederates in the Attic) sets out to educate himself with his own explorations. He intertwines his experiences retracing the early conquistadors, adventurers, and entrepreneurs through such regions as Newfoundland, the Dominican Republic, and the American South, Southwest, and New England with thoroughly researched accounts of the territories themselves, the natives who were historically affected, and the motives of the explorers. Along the way, Horwitz meets many interesting people who have studied and/or appropriated the early discoverers for their own purposes: a conquistador reenactor who likens De Soto to a drug lord, the Zuni tribe of New Mexico, an expert on 16th-century combat, the fraternal Improved Order of the Red Men, and the Dominican belief in a Columbus jinx. At the end of his journey, Horwitz recognizes that all the truths he uncovered will never quash the myths of American history, especially the Pilgrim mystique. This readable and vastly entertaining history travelog is highly recommended for public libraries.
—Margaret Atwater-Singer

Kirkus Reviews
Irreverent, effervescent reexamination of early exploration in the Americas by peripatetic, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Horwitz (The Devil May Care: 50 Intrepid Americans and Their Quest for the Unknown, 2003, etc.). What do Americans really know about the discovery of their continent? Visiting the sadly puny Plymouth Rock prompted this energetic, likable author to delve into the historic record and sniff out the real story behind America's creation myth, from one section of the country to the other. The Vikings arrived first around 1000 CE, when Leif Eiriksson settled for a spell in Newfoundland, enjoying the grapes and mild weather before being run off by the native Skraelings. Horwitz sought out the probable descendants of these natives, the Micmac, who invited him to a cleansing ceremony in their sweat lodge. Next, the author studied the mixed-up voyages of Columbus, whose ignorance of the globe led him to believe that the eastern Bahamas, where he first landed, was the Orient. While the Spanish were claiming the Caribbean, Mexico and Peru, Ponce de Le-n, a veteran of Columbus's second voyage, struck Daytona Beach in 1513 and named the land La Florida. Alvar Nu-ez Cabeza de Vaca made inroads through Florida and Texas between 1528 and 1536, while ruthless Hernando de Soto cut throughout the South a pitiless swath of destruction and slaughter of natives. These voyages came long before Sir Walter Raleigh sent English colonists to settle on Roanoke Island, Va., in 1585. By 1540, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado penetrated the Southwest from Mexico in search of fabled cities, and in Florida, a little-known Huguenot settlement established in 1564 at La Caroline was wiped out by Spanishinvaders. The author revisited all of these sites to speak to the locals, who are often as colorful as the forgotten history he was tracking. Accessible to all ages, hands-on and immensely readable, this book invites readers to search out America's story for themselves. Agent: Kris Dahl/ICM. $250,000 ad/promo
From the Publisher
"Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Horwitz has presented what could be described as a guide for those who are historically ignorant of the “lost century” between the first voyage of Columbus and the establishment of Jamestown in 1607. In this informative, whimsical, and thoroughly enjoyable account, Horwitz describes the exploits of various explorers and conquistadores and enriches the stories with his own experiences when visiting some of the lands they “discovered.” Horwitz writes in a breezy, engaging style, so this combination of popular history and travelogue will be ideal for general readers.—Booklist (starred review)

“Irreverent, effervescent… accessible to all ages, hands-on and immensely readable, this book invites readers to search out America ’s story for themselves.”—Kirkus Reviews

“This readable and vastly entertaining history travelogue is highly recommended.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“Funny and lively…popular history of the most accessible sort. The stories [Horwitz] tells are full of vivid characters and wild detail.”—The New York Times Book Review

“A romp through the sixteenth century…. Horwitz has an ear for a good yarn and an instinct for the trail leading to an entertaining anecdote.”—The Washington Post

“Honest, wonderfully written, and heroically researched…. Horwitz unearths whole chapters of American history that have been ignored.”—Boston Globe

“Like travel writer Bill Bryson, Horwitz has a penchant for meeting colorful characters and getting himself into bizarre situations.”—The Christian Science Monitor

“A sweeping history.… A fascinating story, filled with adventure, Vikings, French voyageurs and those Pilgrims.”—The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Horwitz is a very funny writer.”—Bloomberg News

“A winning and eye-opening read.… Horwitz’s charm, smarts, impeccable research and curiosity make this a voyage worth taking.”—The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

“By conveying our past so heartily, handsomely and winsomely, Tony Horwitz does America proud.”—The Providence Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739317235
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/29/2008
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Abridged, 5 CDs, 6 hours
  • Product dimensions: 5.06 (w) x 5.91 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Tony Horwitz

Tony Horwitz is the bestselling author of Blue Latitudes, Confederates in the Attic, and Baghdad Without a Map. He is also a Pulitzer Prize—winning journalist who has worked for The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Geraldine Brooks, and their son, Nathaniel.

Biography

On a ferry into Beirut that had just squeaked past several rounds of Syrian cannon fire, a fellow traveler commended Tony Horwitz for being jusqu'au boutiste, or "right to the edge" -- explaining that "It mean you are very brave. And maybe very stupid." As a former Wall Street Journal reporter and current New Yorker staff writer, Horwitz has gone places most of us are either not brave -- or stupid -- enough to venture to, and returned with a collection of absorbing, affecting, often hilarious tales set in locales from the Sudan to the American South.

Horwitz's intercontinental roamings started when he married fellow reporter Geraldine Brooks and followed her to her native Australia. His first book, One for the Road, recounts his adventures hitchhiking across the Australian Outback. When Brooks got an assignment as a foreign correspondent in Cairo in 1987, Horwitz went along, looking for the kind of quirky feature stories that as a freelance writer he might sell to editors back in the States. His second book, Baghdad Without a Map, zings around the Middle East, from a qat-chewing party in Yemen to a leper colony in Sudan, from the aforementioned ferry ride to an almost equally terrifying flight on Egyptair. It was a national bestseller, praised by The New York Times Book Review as "a very funny and frequently insightful look at the world's most combustible region."

After moving to Virginia in 1993, Horwitz embarked on a different kind of travel, producing another bestseller. Confederates in the Attic describes his journey across the South and his quest to understand the impact of the Civil War on contemporary America. He meets "hardcore" reenacters who soak brass buttons in urine for just the right patina, earnest Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy, drunken biker Klansmen, and even a few ordinary people who happen to live south of the Mason-Dixon line. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called the book "Good natured and generously funny: moving, chilling, and beautiful."

Horwitz then returned to world travel, this time spurred by an obsession with the eighteenth-century explorer Captain James Cook. For Blue Latitudes, Horwitz visits the islands charted by Cook, intertwining his own travel narrative with the life and writings of the once-famous captain. "Despite the historical focus, Horwitz doesn't stray too far from the encounters with everyday people that gave his previous books such zest," Publishers Weekly noted in a starred review.

Though Horwitz is the kind of breezy, pithy writer who "could make a book on elevators interesting" (The Philadelphia Inquirer), critics seem to agree that his genius is for getting to know people on his travels. Whether he's chatting with a Yemeni arms dealer, a Confederate widow or the King of Tonga, Horwitz likes "to get inside the heads of those I'm writing about by sharing their experiences," as he said in an interview on his publisher's Web site. "The same goes for history: while I wouldn't pretend that I can know what it was to be a Civil War soldier or a sailor aboard one of Cook's ships, I can try to get a better understanding of it." Those of us who aren't so jusqu'au boutiste can improve our understanding simply by turning Horwitz's highly entertaining pages.

Good To Know

The hardest part of researching Blue Latitudes, Horwitz said in a History House interview, was working aboard a replica of Cook's first ship, the Endeavour. "[It] was a challenge, to say the least, to find myself atop the 127-foot main mast, in heavy seas, trying to furl sails. It was like lifting weights while being shaken from the top of a very tall tree."

Before becoming a journalist, Horwitz worked for a pulpwood haulers' union in Mississippi. He produced a television documentary about the experience, "Mississippi Wood."

Horwitz was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for a Wall Street Journal series on working conditions in low-wage jobs.

His wife, Geraldine Brooks, was also a Wall Street Journal reporter before she began writing fiction. The two live in Virginia with their son, Nathaniel.

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    1. Hometown:
      Waterford, Virginia
    1. Date of Birth:
      1958
    2. Place of Birth:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Education:
      B.A., Brown University; M.A., Columbia University School of Journalism

Read an Excerpt


A Voyage Long and Strange

Rediscovering the New World

By Horwitz, Tony Henry Holt and Co.
Copyright © 2008
Horwitz, Tony
All right reserved.


ISBN: 9780805076035

Prologue



The Pilgrims didn’t think much of Cape Cod. “A hideous and desolate wilderness,” William Bradford called it. “Full of wild beasts and wild men.” Rather than stay, a small party from the Mayflower sailed ahead, searching for a winter haven. In December 1620, they reached Plymouth, a place “fit for situation,” Bradford wrote. “At least it was the best they could find.”



On a New England road trip a few summers ago, I washed up in Plymouth, too. It could have been Dedham or Braintree or some other pit stop on the highway near Boston. But a Red Sox game pulsed on the radio, so I drove until it ended at the Plymouth exit. Stopping for beer at Myles Standish Liquor, I was directed to the William Bradford Motor Inn, the best I could find in peak tourist season.



Early the next morning I went for a walk along the waterfront, past a chowder house, a saltwater taffy shop, a wax museum, and a replica Mayflower moored in the bay. Near the water stood a gray historic marker that was terse even by New England standards.



Plymouth Rock. Landing Place of the Pilgrims. 1620.



I looked around and couldn’t see anything except asphalt and a few stones small enough for skipping. Then I spotted a lone speed-walker racing down the sidewalk. “Excuse me,” I said,chasing after him, “but where’s Plymouth Rock?”



Without breaking stride, he thrust a thumb over his shoulder. “You just passed it.”



Twenty yards back was a columned enclosure, between the sidewalk and shoreline. Stepping inside, I came to a rail overlooking a shallow pit. At the bottom sat a lump of granite, the wet sand around it strewn with cigarette butts and ticket stubs from the wax museum. The boulder, about five feet square, had a badly mended cleft in the middle. It looked like a fossilized potato.



A few minutes later a family arrived. As they entered the portico, the father intoned to his children, “This is where it all began.” Then they peered over the rail.



“That’s it?”



“Guess so.”



“It’s, like, nothing.”



“We’ve got rocks bigger than that in our yard.”



Before long, the portico was packed: tour bus groups, foreign sightseers, summer campers. Their response followed the same arc, from solemnity to shock to hilarity. But Plymouth Rock was an icon of American history. So visitors dutifully snapped pictures or pointed video cameras down at the static granite.



“That’s going to be one heckuva home movie.”



“Yeah. My Visit to Plymouth Pebble.”



“The Pilgrims must have had small feet.”



I went over to chat with a woman in green shorts and tan shirt standing outside the enclosure, counting visitors with a hand clicker. Claire Olsen was a veteran park ranger at Plymouth, accustomed to hearing tourists abuse the sacred stone. “A lot of people come here expecting the Rock of Gibraltar,” she said. “Maybe that’s where they went on their last vacation.”



She was also accustomed to fielding odd questions. Was it true that the Mayflower crashed into Plymouth Rock? Did the Pilgrims serve Thanksgiving on top of it? The bronze, ten-foot-tall Indian on a hill overlooking the rock—was he life-sized?



The most common question, though, concerned the date etched into the rock’s surface. Why did it say 1620, visitors wondered, rather than 1492? Wasn’t that when Columbus arrived?



“Or they ask, ‘Is this where the three ships landed?’” Claire said. “They mean the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María. People think Columbus dropped off the Pilgrims and sailed home.”



Claire had to patiently explain that Columbus’s landing and the Pilgrims’ arrival occurred a thousand miles and 128 years apart. “Americans learn about 1492 and 1620 as kids and that’s all they remember as adults,” she said. “The rest of the story is blank.”



As she returned to counting tourists, I returned to the Governor Bradford, chuckling over visitors’ questions. America, great land of idiocy! But Claire’s parting comment gave me pause. Back on the road, winding past cranberry bogs, I scanned the data stored in my own brain about America’s founding by Europeans. In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue . . . John Smith and Jamestown . . . the Mayflower Compact . . . Pilgrims in funny hats . . . Of the Indians who met the English, I of course knew Pocahontas, Squanto, and . . . Hiawatha?



That was the sum of what I dredged up. Scraps from elementary school and the Thanksgiving table. Plus some fuzzy, picture-book images of black-robed friars and armored conquistadors I couldn’t identify. As for dates, I’d mislaid an entire century, the one separating Columbus’s sail in 1492 from Jamestown’s founding in 16-0-something. Maybe nothing happened in the period between. Still, it was distressing not to know. Expensively educated at a private school and university—a history major, no less!—I’d matriculated to middle age with a third grader’s grasp of early America.



Returning home to Virginia, I resolved to undertake some remedial study. At first, this proved deceptively easy: most of what I wanted to know was hiding in plain sight, at my local library. After skimming a few histories, I dug deeper, reading the letters and journals of early explorers. A cinch, really—except, an awful lot happened between Columbus and the Pilgrims. Incredible stories I’d known nothing about. This wasn’t a gap in my education; it was a chasm.



By the time the first English settled, other Europeans had already reached half of the forty-eight states that today make up the continental United States. One of the earliest arrivals was Giovanni da Verrazzano, who toured the Eastern Seaboard in 1524, almost a full century before the Pilgrims arrived. Verrazzano, an Italian in command of a French ship, smelled America before he saw it: “A sweet fragrance,” he wrote, wafted out to sea from the dense cedar forests of the Carolinas.



Reaching the coast, Verrazzano dispatched one of his men to swim ashore and greet some people gathered on the dunes. The natives promptly carried the Frenchman to a fire on the beach and stripped off his clothes—not to “roast him for food,” as his shipmates feared, but to warm the sailor while “looking at the whiteness of his flesh and examining him from head to toe.”



Coasting north, Verrazzano was favorably impressed by a wide bay he called Santa Margarita, better known today as New York harbor. “A very agreeable place,” he wrote, presciently observing that its well-populated shore “was not without some properties of value.” Only at the end of his east coast cruise was Verrazzano disappointed. Natives bared their buttocks at sailors and lowered trade goods onto “rocks where the breakers were most violent.” Verrazzano called this “Land of Bad People,” a name since changed to Maine.



In 1528, on a return voyage to America, Verrazzano went ashore on a Caribbean island that appeared deserted. He was quickly seized by natives, then “cut into pieces and eaten down to the smallest bone.” Or so claims the only surviving account of his landing, which concludes: “Such a sad death had the seeker of new lands.”



History has been cruel to Verrazzano, too. In his own time, the navigator was so renowned that his name appeared on an early globe, spanning the east coast of North America. Today, he is forgotten, except as the namesake of a New York bridge that arcs over the narrows he sailed through in 1524.



Even less remembered are the Portuguese pilots who steered Spanish ships along both coasts of the continent in the sixteenth century, probing upriver to Bangor, Maine, and all the way to Oregon. En route, in 1542, one diarist wrote of California, “The country appears to be very fine,” but its inhabitants “live very swinishly.” That same year, Spanish conquistadors completed a reconnaissance of the continent’s interior: scaling the Appalachians, rafting the Mississippi, peering down the Grand Canyon, and galloping as far inland as central Kansas (much to the surprise of the Plains Indians, who had never seen horses).



The Spanish didn’t just explore: they settled, from the Rio Grande to the Atlantic. Upon founding St. Augustine, the first permanent European city on U.S. soil, the Spanish gave thanks and dined with Indians—fifty-six years before the Pilgrim Thanksgiving at Plymouth. The Spanish also established a Jesuit mission in Virginia, a few miles from the future Jamestown. Nor were Spaniards the only Europeans on the premises. French Protestants, fleeing persecution at home, founded a Florida colony in 1564, before all but two of the Pilgrims were born.



The more I read about pre-Mayflower America, the more I wondered why I’d learned so little of it before. This wasn’t a clot of esoteric names and dates I’d dozed through in high school history, like the Habsburg Succession or the War of Jenkins’s Ear. This was the forgotten first chapter of my own country’s founding by Europeans, a chapter mysteriously redacted from the textbooks of my youth—and, as far as I knew, from national memory.



Anglo bias seemed the obvious culprit, but it didn’t altogether explain Americans’ amnesia. Jamestown preceded Plymouth by thirteen years as the first permanent English colony on the continent. Yet, like most Americans, I was ignorant of the Jamestown story, even though I’d spent much of my life in Virginia. Almost everyone knows the Mayflower, even new immigrants; the Pilgrim ship features prominently in citizenship tests. How many Americans can name the three ships that brought the first English to Jamestown? Or recall anything about the colony, except perhaps Pocahontas and John Smith?



Plymouth, it turned out, wasn’t even the first English colony in New England. That distinction belonged to Fort St. George, in Popham, Maine—a place I’d never heard of. Nor were Pilgrims the first to settle Massachusetts. In 1602, a band of English built a fort on the island of Cuttyhunk. They came, not for religious freedom, but to get rich from digging sassafras, a commodity prized in Europe as a cure for the clap.



History isn’t sport, where coming first means everything. The outposts at Popham and Cuttyhunk were quickly abandoned, as were most of the early French and Spanish settlements. Plymouth endured, the English prevailed in the contest for the continent, and Anglo-American Protestants—New Englanders, in particular—molded the new nation’s memory. And so a creation myth arose, of Pilgrim Fathers seeding a new land with their piety and work ethic. The winners wrote the history.



But losers matter, especially in the history of early America. It was Spanish, French, and Portuguese voyages that spurred the English across the Atlantic in the first place, and that determined where they settled. Early Europeans also introduced horses, pigs, weeds, swords, guns—and, most lethally, diseases to which Indians had no resistance.



Plymouth was “fit for situation,” as William Bradford put it, because an “extraordinary plague” had recently wiped out coastal natives. This left the shoreline undefended and fields conveniently cleared for corn. In the South and the Mississippi Valley, the devastation was even greater. Sixteenth-century conquistadors cut a swath through ancient civilizations that had once rivaled those of the Aztec and Inca. The Pilgrims, and later, the Americans who pushed west from the Atlantic, didn’t pioneer a virgin wilderness. They occupied a land long since transformed by European contact.



There was another side to the story, just as dramatic and not so depressing. To early Europeans, America seemed a world truly new, and their words give voice to the strangeness and wonder of discovery. What to make of luminous insects that seemed at night a “flame of fire”? Or of “hump-backed cows” with goatlike beards that pounded across the Plains? Even the endless prairie, derided today as “flyover country,” astonished those who first rode across it. “If a man lay down on his back he lost sight of the ground,” one Spanish horseman marveled of the flatness.



Most exotic of all were America’s people, whom Columbus named los Indios, Verrazzano called la genta de la terra, and the early English referred to as the Naturals. To the filthy, malnourished, and overdressed Europeans, natives seemed shockingly large, clean, and bare. Indians were likewise astounded by Europeans. Natives fingered the strangers’ beards, patted flat the wrinkles on their garments (perhaps thinking the cloth was skin), and wondered at their trade goods. When given hand mirrors, Verrazzano wrote, “They would look at them quickly, and then refuse them, laughing.” Exchanges of food were also bewildering. “They misliked nothing but our mustard,” an Englishman wrote of Cuttyhunk islanders in 1602, “whereat they made many a sowre face.”



The Pilgrims who arrived in Massachusetts eighteen years later had a very different experience. Samoset, the first Indian they met at Plymouth, greeted the settlers in English. The first thing he asked for was beer.



If the drama of first contact was denied the late-arriving Pilgrims, it is even less available to travelers today. Encounters between alien cultures don’t occur anymore, outside of science fiction. All that’s needed to explore other hemispheres is a search engine.



But roaming the annals of early America, I’d discovered a world that was new and strange to me. What would it be like to explore this New World, not only in books but on the ground? To take a pre-Pilgrimage through early America that ended at Plymouth Rock instead of beginning there? To make landfall where the first Europeans had, meet the Naturals, mine the past, and map its memory in the present? To rediscover my native land, the U.S. continent?



I had no idea where this would lead, or what I’d find. But I’d read enough to know there’d be detours outside modern boundaries and textbook timelines. Columbus, for starters, was yet another latecomer. To begin at the beginning, I had to go back, way back, to the first Europeans who crossed the ocean blue, long before fourteen hundred and ninety-two.




Copyright © 2008 by Tony Horwitz. All rights reserved.



Continues...


Excerpted from A Voyage Long and Strange by Horwitz, Tony Copyright © 2008 by Horwitz, Tony. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents

List of Maps

Prologue: The Lost Century 1

Pt. I Discovery

1 Vinland: First Contact 11

2 1492: The Hidden Half of the Globe 47

3 Santo Domingo: The Columbus Jinx 72

4 Dominican Republic: You Think There Are Still Indians? 95

Pt. II Conquest

5 The Gulf Coast: Naked in the New World 117

6 The Southwest: To the Seven Cities of Stone 134

7 The Plains: Sea of Grass 165

8 The South: De Soto Does Dixie 199

9 The Mississippi: Conquistador's Last Stand 229

Pt. III Settlement

10 Florida: Fountain of Youth, River of Blood 265

11 Roanoke: Lost in the Lost Colony 293

12 Jamestown: The Captain and the Naturals 326

13 Plymouth: A Tale of Two Rocks 370

Note on Sources 391

Bibliography 409

Acknowledgments 421

Index 427

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • 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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  • Anonymous

    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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