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The Lost Voyage of John Cabot Hardcover – July 6, 2004

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books; First Edition Stated edition (July 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689851731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689851735
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,408,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7-10–In 1498, as John Cabot attempts to beat Columbus to a western route to Asia, his resentful son Sebastian, 15, remains in England awaiting his father and two brothers' return. Alternating chapters chronicle Cabot's second voyage to the New World, related through letters to Sebastian; the teen's riverboat life in Bristol; and the history of Cabot's life prior to this last voyage. Teeming with the intricate interactions of politics and naval power, Garfield's story ties the mystery of the Cabots' final journey to the larger backdrop of the era of exploration. While the author should be applauded for his dedication to historical research, the surfeit of information on 15th-century culture, politics, navigation, and shipping often threatens to drown the plot. The novel requires an investment of a solid 100 pages before the adventure subplot builds sufficient dramatic tension to keep readers' interest. However, the writing is smooth and readable, and for those who enjoy historical fiction with a large dollop of history, this story provides a different perspective on the era. While not an essential purchase, this book is notable for its love of detail and its subtle portrayal of the complexities of Cabot's world.–Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT
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About the Author

Henry Garfield lives in Belfast, Maine, where he keeps a small sailboat for explorations of the coastal waters. He is the author of three mystery-

suspense novels: Moondog, Room 13, and Tartabull's Throw, and writes a regular column for, an Internet newspaper in Maine. He is the great-great-grandson of President James A. Garfield, the last U.S. president born in a log cabin.

More About the Author

Conceived on New Year's Eve and named after Hank Williams (his parents unaware that the legendary singer's given name was Hiram), Henry Garfield was born in Philadelphia on September 4, 1957, one month before the launching of Sputnik. He moved with his family to the Maine Coast just in time to get caught up in the 1967 American League pennant race and become a Red Sox fan for life. The author's great-great-grandfather was James A. Garfield, the twentieth U.S. President.

The author followed in the footsteps of the President's four sons by attending St. Paul's School in Concord, NH, from which he graduated in 1976. After undergraduate studies in English, History, and Astronomy at Beloit College in Wisconsin, the University of Maine, and San Diego State University, he took most of two decades to begin a career as a novelist before earning his MFA in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine in 2004, the same year his historical novel The Lost of John Cabot was published by Simon and Schuster.

He is the proud father of two grown children: a daughter, Polaris, and a son, Rigel. The author raised both as a single parent and dedicated his first novel, Moondog (published by St. Martin's Press in 1995) to them. Polaris recently graduated cum laude in English from the University of Maine; Rigel is studying filmmaking at San Diego City College.

Hank spent most of the 1980s and 1990s in Southern California before returning to Maine in 1999. He now lives in Bangor, Maine with his second wife, Elaine Garfield, RN, who works in the surgical department at a local hospital. He teaches writing at the University of Maine and is a contributing editor and feature writer for Bangor Metro Magazine.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on September 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The early explorers faced oceans of unknown terrors when they set sail to look for a shorter route to the Asian mainland. In 1492 Christopher Columbus thought he might have discovered Asia. But his rival and friend, John Cabot, felt that Columbus had not found a southern route to Asia. Based upon study, calculations and his own explorations, Cabot set out in 1497 to possibly prove his old rival wrong and to find this route himself.

When Cabot leaves Bristol, England, he takes his two sons, Ludovico and Sancio. He leaves 15-year-old Sebastian behind to care for the explorer's patient wife, Mattea. While Sebastian resents being left behind, he finds comfort in the letters he begins to receive from Sancio. The letters are filled with the long days of boredom and also some of the excitement as they embark into less explored areas. However, the letters stop abruptly and everyone is left to wonder what has happened. The only information they get comes through rumor and gossip as sailors come and go in the busy port. History sheds no light on this last voyage of John Cabot, but through the skillful storytelling skills of Henry Garfield, we catch a glimpse of what might have happened to this group of daring and brave explorers.

The letters to Sebastian from Sancio continue to be written but are not mailed, and it is this clever twist that allows readers to follow an intriguing path of the sailors' fates. Sancio, who is skilled in languages, writes to his brother that there is unrest among the men. This unrest possibly comes from two things: they feel that they have reached an Asian coastline, so it is time to return, and they are lonely for female company. "I think the sight of the native women has reminded some of the men of the loneliness of sea travel. There were two fights today.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By sarah on October 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
I think that Henry Garfield did an absolutely perfect job wrighting this book. This book hints that Columbus, Cabot's childhood friend, really wasn't as fearless and daring as history books insist. According to this book, Cabot was much more intent on knowing, without a doubt, that the land he reached was, in fact, Asia. Columbus, finding land after crossing only half the distance to Asia, immediately wished to end the voyage. Knowing that he hadn't found Asia, yet not willing to return home a failure, he told the queen that he had found a string of islands off of Asia's coast. Cabot, reading the signs that Columbus showed, knew that he hadn't really found Asia. He knew that if he left, proved Columbus a lier, and then returned home to King Henry, he would become famous! Putting this into mind he left for Asia.
While Cabot leaves to find Asia, he leaves his middle son, Sebastian, at home. Sebastian, jealous of his father's occupation, becomes a river pilot. Sebastian learns a lot about Columbus and the world around him while his father is gone. If you want to know more, read the book to find out...
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Format: Kindle Edition
It is becoming increasingly difficult to get lost. While today's voyagers and adventurers are no less intrepid than Cabot, Columbus, and others, the means to keep in touch have greatly lessoned the odds of slipping over the side of the earth, unnoticed. The value of The Lost Voyage of John Cabot, besides great research about a period of history almost obscured by the mists of time, lies in the courage it took for Cabot to undertake this journey at all. Henry Garfield's portrayal of the son left behind, not knowing what has taken place yet determined to find out, is a thought-provoking look into the psyches of persons known and unknown. The combination of the mystery and the unraveling of it make for a great read. For lovers of historical fiction, this is a real gem.
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