Tony Horwitz: A Voyage Long and Strange: On the Trail of Vikings, Conquistadors, Lost Colonists, and Other Adventurers in Early America

November 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Non-Fiction

voyage-cover978-0312428327 – Paperback – Picador – $18.00

What a great book!  This is one of those modern nonfiction books by a really smart and talented writer that communicates a great deal of information almost effortlessly.  Tony Horwitz takes us on a wonderful journey, his own individualistic, funny, sometimes painful, and always fascinating tour of North American history. It all started with a chance visit to Plymouth Rock that made him realize how little he knew about the early colonization and settlement of North America before the Pilgrims arrival in 1620.  It wasn’t long before he set out on a very long journey, as he puts it “in the footsteps of the many Europeans who preceded the Pilgrims to America.”

He traces many stories and visits many places on his own epic trek — from Florida’s Fountain of Youth to Plymouth’s sacred Rock, from desert pueblos to subarctic sweat lodges. Tony has a healthy regard for history and an equally healthy disregard for accepting the accepted wisdom and stories about the Europeans of all kinds who managed to get to America, muck about the place, sometimes with disastrous or horrific results, and he does not forget to talk about the people who were already here when the Europeans arrived.  Overall, he is funny, tells great stories, brilliantly illuminates the people, places and myths that dot our past, and while it is trite to say, he definitely brings a long run of history vividly to life.  For those of us who do know our American history, this book is fun and rewarding, and for those who missed it, I can think of no better way to learn about this early period of North American history up close and personal than to read A Voyage Long and Strange.

I heard Tony talk about this book and read from it at the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival this summer and knew instantly that I wanted to read it myself.  He definitely has one of the most engaging approaches to history and story telling you will ever run across.  Probably reflecting his own engaging personality, as my interview with Tony will show you.  He has a great website with alot of information about this, his newest book, and his other four books at www.tonyhorwitz.com.

Be Sociable, Share!

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...