Reading A Voyage Long and Strange by Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Horwitz is a bit like sitting down for a cozy chat with a good friend. His writing is wonderfully intimate and warm. Tony is the product of a “good education’, private schools and ivy league college. On a trip along the east coast he stopped at Plymouth Rock, a disappointing cheap tourist trap today. It got him to thinking about American history and the woeful inadequacy of his education. His book sets the record straight on the early years of North America. I felt on pretty firm ground with Leif Ericson, but my confidence declined with his siblings. I had been blissfully ignorant of Leif’s murderous sister Freydis. I started finding myself in comfortable territory again as the book visited with a fresh eye pieces of history that were not unknown to me. I was already aware of Columbus, Hernando de Soto, Coronado's trek north to the Grand Canyon, and the bad Pizarro brothers. But I was taken completely by surprise learning about Cabeza de Vaca’s amazing journey across thousands of miles of unknown territory. He was one of 3 survivors from among 242 soldiers Panfilo Narvaes sailed off and abandoned in the swamps of Florida. To remain alive among the native population he learned to be a healer, eventually becoming revered by the tribes. It is an astonishing story, I plan to read more about Cabeza de Vaca in A Land so Strange by Andre Resandez. I was back on firmer ground again as Tony talked about the first permanent settlement in North America. Having visited St. Augustine Florida I knew the Spanish, not the English, had been the first successful settlers. Tony moves on to Jamestown, providing fascinating detail on the settlement, its trials, John Smith and Pocahontas. Smith was an intrepid fellow, but did not have a soft touch with the upper classes. Pocahontas was a child when she saved Smith from her father’s ire. She later married one of the settlers. Their son Thomas forsook his native heritage, inheriting a large plantation from his father and fighting against the Indians in the militia. As Tony pokes into the various nooks and crannies of our history, he gives us a look at what the land is like today. It is not unusual to find sites of historic importance buried beneath the asphalt of a Wal-Mart parking lot. Respect for the past is often sadly lacking in our young nation. While the book is not entirely set in the Southwest, the southwestern portions are a rich, important part of our history. Tony Horwitz’s is not the only Pulitzer Prize winner in his household. His wife is the gifted Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Geraldine Brooks.
— Deon Stonehouse
A Voyage Long and Strange is a rich mixture of scholarship and modern-day adventure that brings the forgotten first chapter of America's history vividly to life.
What happened in North America between Columbus's sail in 1492 and the Pilgrims' arrival in 1620?
On a visit to Plymouth Rock, Tony Horwitz realizes he doesn't have a clue, nor do most Americans. So he sets off across the continent to rediscover the wild era when Europeans first roamed the New World in quest of gold, glory, converts, and eternal youth. Horwitz tells the story of these brave and often crazed explorers while retracing their steps on his own epic trek--an odyssey that takes him inside an Indian sweat lodge in subarctic Canada, down the Mississippi in a canoe, on a road trip fueled by buffalo meat, and into sixty pounds of armor as a conquistador reenactor in Florida.
About the Author
Tony Horwitz is a native of Washington, D.C., and a graduate of Brown University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. He worked for many years as a reporter, first in Indiana and then during a decade overseas in Australia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, mostly covering wars and conflicts as a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. After returning to the States, he won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting and worked as a staff writer for The New Yorker before becoming a full-time author.
His books include Midnight Rising, A Voyage Long and Strange, Blue Latitudes, a national and New York Times bestseller about the Pacific voyages of Captain James Cook, Baghdad Without a Map, a national bestseller about the Middle East, and Confederates in the Attic, a national and New York Times bestseller about the Civil War.
Horwitz has been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and a visiting scholar at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. He lives with his wife, Geraldine Brooks, and their son, Nathaniel, on the island of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.
“Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Horwitz has presented what could be described as a guide for those who are historically ignorant of the "lost century" between the first voyage of Columbus and the establishment of Jamestown in 1607. In this informative, whimsical, and thoroughly enjoyable account, Horwitz describes the exploits of various explorers and conquistadores and enriches the stories with his own experiences when visiting some of the lands they "discovered." Horwitz writes in a breezy, engaging style, so this combination of popular history and travelogue will be ideal for general readers.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Irreverent, effervescent… accessible to all ages, hands-on and immensely readable, this book invites readers to search out America 's story for themselves.” —Kirkus Reviews
“This readable and vastly entertaining history travelogue is highly recommended.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Funny and lively…popular history of the most accessible sort. The stories [Horwitz] tells are full of vivid characters and wild detail.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A romp through the sixteenth century…. Horwitz has an ear for a good yarn and an instinct for the trail leading to an entertaining anecdote.” —The Washington Post
“Honest, wonderfully written, and heroically researched…. Horwitz unearths whole chapters of American history that have been ignored.” —Boston Globe
“Like travel writer Bill Bryson, Horwitz has a penchant for meeting colorful characters and getting himself into bizarre situations.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“A sweeping history.… A fascinating story, filled with adventure, Vikings, French voyageurs and those Pilgrims.” —The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Horwitz is a very funny writer.” —Bloomberg News
“A winning and eye-opening read.… Horwitz's charm, smarts, impeccable research and curiosity make this a voyage worth taking.” —The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
“By conveying our past so heartily, handsomely and winsomely, Tony Horwitz does America proud.” —The Providence Journal