- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: John Murray Pubs Ltd (October 30, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0719564174
- ISBN-13: 978-0719564178
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 7.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Paperback – October 30, 2004
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Showing 1-4 of 29 reviews
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If you like history and travelogues, you will love this book.
The endeavour was on a par with the moon landing - just at a different time in history.
By Ronald J.Watkins
In order to grasp the situation involving the century-old Portuguese story, one must note the historical implications, especially the economic as well as the self-interest of the nation, its political agendas, and the individual drives of the major players found in any monograph written about Vasco da Gama. In Watkin's version, the author's ability to tell the story from many viewpoints is useful in a comprehensive understanding of the events surrounding Vasco da Gama's life and times.
Given that any story written about Gama can never be fully presented, since what actually happened as well as what others said actually happened, remains the fodder of constant flux and debate since few documents survive to date, Watkins surely paints an intriguing portrait of the man. Vasco da Gama is known by the historicity of a dozen or so primary documents, those with historical authenticity that describe his story and the legendary status surrounding his lifetime achievements, and those written after his death. A good historian combines crafted methodologies related to primary and secondary sources that surely offer accurate timelines and descriptions noted as presentations of the events described. In Watkin's tale, we see elements of both historical accuracy and the solid skills of a good storyteller.
Thus, what can we learn from Ronald J. Watkin's version of events? This remains the ultimate question since one can sense that after reading the entire corpus, it appears to be a very interesting, if not, "a more than introductory account" of Gama's story, albeit, seen through prism the eyes of a 21st century writer.
Watkin's sources include: Rotiero of Gama's first voyage to India; Gasper Correia, The Three Voyages of Vasco da Gama, and His Viceroyalty, from the Lendas da India, (London,1869); Bailey Diffie and George D. Winnius, Foundations of the Portuguese Empire 1415-1580 (Minneapolis 1977), and S.E. Morison's Sailing Instructions of Vasco da Gama to Pedro Álvares Cabral. Other additional standard sources used by Watson includes H.V. Livermore's A New History of Portugal, Cambridge 1969); Edgar Prestage's, The Portuguese Voyages of Prestage's The Chronicle of Discovery and Conquest of Guinea and The Portuguese Pioneers ).
From the introduction to the conclusion, one finds Watkin's version of the account and his writing style at times excellent and poignant. Starting with a tale about Columbus and his historic meeting with John II of Portugal, until Gama's discovery, which led to "the blueprint of future Portuguese dominance of spice trade with all that that meant for the tiny, impoverished nation," one finds this tale compelling and though provoking. I highly recommend this excellent book.