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Voyages and Discoveries: Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques & Discoveries ofthe English Nat (Penguin Classics) Paperback – July 30, 1972

ISBN-13: 978-0140430738 ISBN-10: 0140430733

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (July 30, 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140430733
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140430738
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Edited, abridged and introduced by Jack Beeching

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Customer Reviews

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The Spanish are portrayed in a very bad light throughout this book, which I'm sure is pretty accurate.
S. Clark
What makes it so interesting is that all of the many stories in the book are firsthand accounts of the travails of the participants.
Tommy Dooley
This is why I highly recommend this book which covers the period of Elizabethan exploration, trade, and piracy.
Captain Cook

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Captain Cook on September 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
History is best not written by historians. In particular I mean the present day academic types who always have some 'politically correct' axe to grind or new theory purposely designed to shock and distort for the sole purpose of making a name for themselves. To really enjoy history, it is better to sidestep this self-aggrandizement of the historian and go straight to the source, reading genuine narratives written by those closest to the events and the period described. This is why I highly recommend this book which covers the period of Elizabethan exploration, trade, and piracy.

In terms of its effects on our modern World, this great impulse to cross oceans, to trade, fight, and colonize was of vital importance. Without the daring and ambition of a few hundred gentlemen and merchants and the toughness of the 'sea dogs' they employed, there would have been no British Empire and no United States, as we now know it.

During his life, Richard Hakluyt compiled an enormous collection of documents and narratives relating to this great outward impulse. This volume represents a selection of only about one tenth of the original work. Besides ocean voyages, Hakluyt also documented overland explorations, particularly the attempts by the Muscovy Company to establish trade routes from the Arctic Sea ports to Persia and Central Asia.

According to the sleeve notes, Hakluyt compiled this collection of narratives by seamen and traders to encourage further voyages of discovery and trade with distant lands, however, this is no sane man's impression. Apart from a few, most of the stories herein contained reveal such suffering and danger that reading this book would dampen the enthusiasm of even the most adventurous person today.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dr. J. Vaughan Johnson on August 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
An excellent resource for anyone interested in the early English voyages to North America (16th and 17th centuries). It is an abridged edition, however, not the complete text. I believe that a new edition of the full text (the last one was in 1909) is about to be undertaken. For Hakluyt scholars, there is a seminar planned at the Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England, in May 2008. Details are available from the museum's website.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Myers VINE VOICE on September 18, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My only real complaint about this Penguin Classics version of Hakluyt's "Voyages And Discoveries" is that it is extremely abridged. Then again, I don't imagine that even Penguin could pull off publishing the over 4,000 page original, which was in the library at Winchester when I was a schoolboy, and - need I say - was a favourite of even those who feigned indifference to matters literary.

It's the quintessential English "sea-dog" book, mostly composed by said sea-dogs themselves and has always served as a companion piece to the national anthem, with its chorus about Britannia ruling the waves and what not. These excerpts - ending slightly after the defeat of the Spanish Armada - cover, however, tales that took place BEFORE England ruled the waves. Spain is the pre-eminent sea power through almost all of the book, and Spain and RCs get rather a bad rap herein. All for the better, I say. The book was written by men who had been imprisoned by the Spanish, tortured by the Spanish and who had fought to the death with the Spanish. Should we gloss their feelings to create a book more suited to modern global sensibilities? Heaven forefend!

If you like books about the perils and glories of the sea, you'll love these abridged narratives. If not, not. I couldn't help, whilst poring over these tales, of which my favourite is of the - no doubt mad - Lord Grenville, a sort of apologia written by Raleigh for his seemingly unaccountable derring-do, recall Johnson's remark to Boswell about ships and sailors:

"No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned."

And one can't help agreeing with the lexicographic curmudgeon on this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tommy Dooley TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
Richard Hakluyt (pronounced Hacket') compiled the original version of this book over virtually his lifetime and meant it to be a lot more than a mere entertaining read. `The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation', was meant to be an aid for both navigation and trade. Hakluyt was an interesting man too, educated at Christ Church, Oxford he took holy orders and started his love of travel writing -not the Rough Guide type of today, but great stories of derring do and foreign lands with weird, smelly foreigners who sometimes had `horrible ears'. He had his first book published in 1582 when he was about thirty years old. He went on to be called a `Renaissance diplomat, scholar and part time spy'.

But enough of him, back to the book, this is an edited version of the real thing by Jack Beeching and at over 400 tightly printed pages it packs many a punch. What makes it so interesting is that all of the many stories in the book are firsthand accounts of the travails of the participants. Hakluyt went out of his way to track them down or get written testimony and also tried to elicit as much information as possible on customs, geography and ease of travel so that the next time any one went there it would be a tad easier. England was playing catch up on the International trade front and so needed all the help it could get.

The tales often feature people from history who you will be aware of like Sir Francis Drake and Thomas Cavendish, but the breadth is amazing from Cathay to South America. There are tales of shipwreck, slavery, religious persecution, and a `request to be advised in the killing of the whale', so not one for animal lovers this.
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