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Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage that Redrew the Map of the New World Paperback – August 31, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Although not the first mariner to explore North America, Henry Hudson (1565–1611) left a powerful legacy, vividly described in this richly detailed biography 400 years after his journey up what became the Hudson River. Canadian historian Hunter (God's Mercies: Rivalry, Betrayal, and the Dream of Discovery) reminds readers that 16th- and 17th-century European entrepreneurs remained obsessed with finding a shortcut to Asia. An experienced English seaman, Hudson was hired by the Dutch East India Company in 1609 to sail east above Russia. Having already failed at that route, Hudson departed with other ideas. He quickly found his way blocked by ice, but instead of returning to Holland sailed west across the Atlantic, eventually stopping near Manhattan and sailing up his eponymous river as far as present-day Albany. Hunter has clearly immersed himself in the period, producing a meticulous account of Hudson's three months in the New World. Readers may prefer to skim precise descriptions of his navigational difficulties, but few will resist the colorful personal conflicts, tortuous politics and alternately friendly and vicious encounters between Europeans and Native Americans. Photos. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“[Douglas Hunter] is also an experienced sailor, and his observations of nautical life are astute … Behind that, a picture emerges of Hudson as a wily operator who knew what he wanted to find, and where he wanted to go to find it--and wasn't about to tell his merchant backers any more than they needed to know so they would give him a ship. Hunter provides a fine account of Hudson's wheeling and dealing, and the hoodwinking of the Dutch and English backers of his various voyages.” ―Boston Globe
“[Hunter's] firm grasp of the politics and history of Hudson's time make the book stand out. Insightful look at Hudson, his pivotal achievement and the world events surrounding it.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Few will resist the colorful personal conflicts, tortuous politics and alternately friendly and vicious encounters between Europeans and Native Americans.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Hunter delivers a vivid rendition of Hudson's entrance into New York Bay, ascent to the future site of Albany, and peaceful and violent encounters with the native peoples. Fans of the era of discovery will delight in Hunter's history of Hudson's famed expedition.” ―Booklist
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First off, this is not solely about Hudson's voyage. The author spends a great deal of time going through the politics involving the VOC, which of course is completely fine. Understanding Hudson's voyage does require some knowledge of what was going on the VOC, the Dutch East India Company which sponsored Hudson's voyage. The problem is that the author is unable to ignore a single detail of this subject, or for that matter, basically any subject that remotely pertained to Hudson and the voyage. Not only does the author excessively describe the VOC, we also find ourselves reading about early 17th century English politics, which while interesting, and a bit of a stretch for a book concerning the voyage of Henry Hudson. The author gets bogged down in endless amounts of detail that really should be covered in paragraphs, but instead is covered in dozens of pages. Hudson does not begin sailing up the river that would bear his name until almost page 200.
Secondly, the author spends a great deal of time speculating. Speculation and educated guessing is completely necessary when it comes to the voyage of the Half Moon as there are a limited amount of primary resources(Outside of Robert Juet's journal) concerning Hudson and the voyage. This being said, the author "speculates" pages at a time, when his insight could be satisfactorily explained in a few paragraphs.
I don't mean to knock the book, it is well written and researched, and you will learn a lot from it. The author's descriptions of the first encounters between the natives and Hudson's crew is simply fascinating. If you are from the Hudson Valley you or New York City you will really be able to relate, it was very easy for me to picture the Half Moon sailing up the river and the fact that I was quite familiar with every location described as Hudson sailed up the river makes it ever so more interesting. Overall it is a very solid work. But just be prepared for more than just the voyage.
I recommend it to people who enjoy history.