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The European Discovery of America; Vol 1: The Northern Voyages A.D. 500-1600 (The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages ) Paperback – August 19, 1993


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The European Discovery of America; Vol 1: The Northern Voyages A.D. 500-1600 (The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages ) + The European Discovery of America: Vol 2, The Southern Voyages A.D. 1492-1616 + Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (August 19, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195082710
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195082715
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #710,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Now [Morison] has united the latest findings of modern scholarship, American and European, to his own zestful explorations by land, sea and air, to produce a comprehensive and, for our day and age, definitive account of the process by which Europe substituted fact for fable and knowledge for ignorance about the New World across the Western Ocean....[A] unique combination of scholarship and fieldwork....Into these volumes is distilled a lifetime of experience--of sailing, of learning and of the sadly neglected art of historical narration. They are a joy and a treasure house."--Economist


"The first comprehensive effort, in nearly a century, to bring the whole subject under a 20th-centry camera....Morison has been able to bring his reader something none of his predecessors has....This reviewer recalls no other recent historical narrative where there is a more helpful blending of illustration and text."--Christian Science Monitor


"Irresistibly entertaining."--Newsweek


"In this mellow book Morison blends pungent insight as a historian and extraordinary knowledge as a navigator, familiarity with the ancient sagas and graphic understanding of the dangers which the mariners encountered. He threads his way through the myths and national rivalries with a strong hand and salty wit....His scholarship is never forbidding, for throughout the narrative he is speaking as a twentieth-century admiral of the ocean sea, urbane, good humored, experienced, and acute in his reading of human nature. The notes are spicy and persuasive, the maps and illustrations profuse."--The Atlantic


About the Author

About the Author The late Samuel Eliot Morison, twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize, was the author of numerous books including The Oxford History of the American People, The Growth of the American Republic, and Admiral of the Ocean, a biography of Columbus.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 11, 1998
Format: Paperback
In reporting the discovery of the Americas the popular focus of historians has been on the voyages of Columbus and others in the southern latitudes. The early northern explorers, in search of the elusive north west passage to Cathay, sailed in waters far more hostile than their southern compatriots. Morison has a great love for his subject and wealth of knowledge. He clearly details the personalities of the leaders of these early expeditions and the dangers they faced. This is a most enjoyable read filled with wit and knowledge, which has left me searching for other titles by the author.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Smallchief on March 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
Morison was a Harvard professor, a Navy Admiral, a sailor, and a good writer and he turned out two hefty volumes about the discovery of the Americas. This volume concerns European travelers to North America before 1600. Volume 2 is about the southern voyages of Christopher Columbus, Magellan, and others.

Morison begins his account with the mythical St. Brendan, proceeds onward to the Vikings, examines the claims of other pre-Columbian "disoverers" of America, and then gets to Cabot, Cartier, and the 16th century explorers. He ends the book with a description of the attempt to found the first British colony in the United States at Roanoke Island, NC. Following each chapters he describes his sources and the work of other historians and discusses some of the more outrageous theories about pre-Columbian discoveries.

The book is enhanced by Morison's own experience as a sailor. He is able to refute some of the fantasies of other historians with his on-the-ground and sea experiences. One of the most interesting chapter in the book describes English ships and the life at sea of sailors in the 16th century. Good illustrations and maps enhance the text.

Morison doesn't have much interest and empathy for the Indians the early explorers encountered, nor the forces in Europe that caused the European explorers to trust their fortunes to hazardous journeys. He's a man who celebrates the romance of the sea -- and casts a baleful eye on those sailors and historians who fail to live up to his high standards of seamanship and scholarly endeavor. That this is the best book ever written on the discovery and early exploration of North America is almost without dispute. It's a shame that it has been allowed to go out of print.

Smallchief
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Doherty on October 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
In this volume Morison goes back to the voyages of St. Brendan and the Irish monks as well as those of Norsemen such as Leif Erickson. The first post-Columbian voyages the author describes are those of John Cabot in 1497-1498 and the book ends with a discussion of the experiences of the second Virginia colony in 1587.
Morison is an entertaining writer who offers many original insights.
Some of his thorough research was done as a passenger on a small twin-engined plane flown along the same coasts which were discovered by Cabot, Cartier and Verrazzano.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on April 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Premier historian Morison brings in very narrative form discoveries of America. Decribes one by one each voyage to north of Virginia, and even discusses those that never took place. Seasoned mariner himself, details to reader not only specific voyages, but explains social environment of the era. One chapter tells about ships and seamen. This helps understand what and how the discoverers were thinking, and how they proceeded.
Each chapter is followed by discussion of source materials (rare these days). Those who are interested to find out more, will have ready shopping list of additional books, as well as their evaluation by Morison.
(...)
Many pictures.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jim Shockley on April 1, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am going to finish this book and thank goodness a lot of it was in notes at the end of each chapter that I could skim. The pictures are very badly presented, in the paperback at any rate. Those pictures of scenery are very bad, very bad. The maps for the most part are totally unusable.

The author is an admiral, and apparently a real sailor. I did not buy the book to learn sailing. The author does have a good style, and he flows well. But it is a little less history when he adds gracious comments with no support in the record.

I will not buy the 2nd vol. on the south and recommend that you do not buy this one.

Jim Shockley

P.S. The author did win a Pulitzer Prize, and I have not come close to that. I think part of the problem might be the generational difference.
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