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In Love With the History Our Teachers Never Told Us

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  • Terry Foreman
    In Love With the History Our Teachers Never Told Us CUTTYHUNK ISLAND, Mass. — Tony Horwitz’s new book, “A Voyage Long and Strange,” is about the
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 30 8:44 AM
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      In Love With the History Our Teachers Never Told Us

      CUTTYHUNK ISLAND, Mass. — Tony Horwitz’s new book, “A Voyage Long and
      Strange,” is about the American history most Americans never learned,
      including the story of the short-lived, early-17th-century colony
      established on this windswept island eight miles west of Martha’s Vineyard.

      The book starts with the Viking discovery of North America, dispels a
      number of myths about Columbus (a much lousier navigator than we were
      taught) and then traces the various Spanish and French explorations of
      America before turning to the English settlements at Jamestown and Plymouth.

      That the Pilgrims were very tardy latecomers is one of the themes of “A
      Voyage Long and Strange,” just published by Macmillan. Another is that much
      of what we think of as heroic exploration was bumbling and misguided. And a
      third is that large chunks of our past are preserved these days less by
      scholars than by passionate amateurs. Who knew, for example, that some
      evangelicals in Jacksonville, Fla., were keeping alive the memory of the
      French Huguenots who settled there and were massacred by the Spanish?
      [....]
      Oddly, considering that he now lives on Martha’s Vineyard, one place that
      Mr. Horwitz writes about but did not visit is Cuttyhunk, right nearby,
      where the British explorer Bartholomew Gosnold established a short-lived
      colony in 1602. On a gray, cold and blustery day earlier this month, he
      rectified the omission, and afterward he wrote in an e-mail message: “I’ll
      never complain again about the Vineyard being bleak.”

      To get there he had to take two ferries: from the Vineyard to Wood’s Hole
      and then from New Bedford to Cuttyhunk. On the second leg, as Cuttyhunk — a
      gray smudge at the end of what are now known as the Elizabeth Islands —
      came into view, he explained that Gosnold sailed to the New England coast,
      or what he thought was northern Virginia, in search of sassafras, which was
      the 17th-century version of penicillin. It was believed — wrongly — to be a
      cure for syphilis and thus was extremely valuable. Gosnold had a crew of
      31, including sailors — “none of the best,” according to someone onboard —
      an apothecary (to identify the sassafras) and 20 settlers, who were
      supposed to found a year-round trading post.

      The settlement lasted only a few weeks because those who were supposed to
      stay behind got cold feet. They felt they were insufficiently provisioned
      and were also worried about being cheated of their share of the cargo.

      Two men left accounts of the voyage, and so the Cuttyhunk colony, though
      brief, is unusually well documented, Mr. Horwitz said, and what’s most
      remarkable about these accounts is their description of the settlers’
      encounter with American Indians.

      On first making landfall in southern Maine, Gosnold’s ship, the Concord,
      was greeted by a canoe rigged with a mast and sails, so that it was at
      first mistaken for a European fishing vessel. The Indians onboard “spake
      diverse Christian words,” one of the Englishmen wrote, “and seemed to
      understand much more than we.” It turned out they had been trading for
      years with Basque fishermen.

      [For the rest of the story:].

      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/30/books/30horw.html?ei=5070&em=&en=7379365d9485d7b0&ex=1209700800&pagewanted=all
    • Susan Thomas
      Fascinating! I now want to read the book! I especially was taken with the idea of Basque fishermen casually criss-crossing the Atlantic without all the bells
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 30 3:17 PM
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        Fascinating! I now want to read the book! I especially was taken with
        the idea of Basque fishermen casually criss-crossing the Atlantic
        without all the bells and whistles of recorded voyages. What an amazing
        story.

        Terry Foreman wrote:
        >
        >
        > In Love With the History Our Teachers Never Told Us
        >
        > CUTTYHUNK ISLAND, Mass. — Tony Horwitz’s new book, “A Voyage Long and
        > Strange,” is about the American history most Americans never learned,
        > including the story of the short-lived, early-17th-century colony
        > established on this windswept island eight miles west of Martha’s
        > Vineyard.
        >
        > The book starts with the Viking discovery of North America, dispels a
        > number of myths about Columbus (a much lousier navigator than we were
        > taught) and then traces the various Spanish and French explorations of
        > America before turning to the English settlements at Jamestown and
        > Plymouth.
        >
        > That the Pilgrims were very tardy latecomers is one of the themes of “A
        > Voyage Long and Strange,” just published by Macmillan. Another is that
        > much
        > of what we think of as heroic exploration was bumbling and misguided.
        > And a
        > third is that large chunks of our past are preserved these days less by
        > scholars than by passionate amateurs. Who knew, for example, that some
        > evangelicals in Jacksonville, Fla., were keeping alive the memory of the
        > French Huguenots who settled there and were massacred by the Spanish?
        > [....]
        > Oddly, considering that he now lives on Martha’s Vineyard, one place that
        > Mr. Horwitz writes about but did not visit is Cuttyhunk, right nearby,
        > where the British explorer Bartholomew Gosnold established a short-lived
        > colony in 1602. On a gray, cold and blustery day earlier this month, he
        > rectified the omission, and afterward he wrote in an e-mail message:
        > “I’ll
        > never complain again about the Vineyard being bleak.”
        >
        > To get there he had to take two ferries: from the Vineyard to Wood’s Hole
        > and then from New Bedford to Cuttyhunk. On the second leg, as
        > Cuttyhunk — a
        > gray smudge at the end of what are now known as the Elizabeth Islands —
        > came into view, he explained that Gosnold sailed to the New England
        > coast,
        > or what he thought was northern Virginia, in search of sassafras,
        > which was
        > the 17th-century version of penicillin. It was believed — wrongly — to
        > be a
        > cure for syphilis and thus was extremely valuable. Gosnold had a crew of
        > 31, including sailors — “none of the best,” according to someone
        > onboard —
        > an apothecary (to identify the sassafras) and 20 settlers, who were
        > supposed to found a year-round trading post.
        >
        > The settlement lasted only a few weeks because those who were supposed to
        > stay behind got cold feet. They felt they were insufficiently provisioned
        > and were also worried about being cheated of their share of the cargo.
        >
        > Two men left accounts of the voyage, and so the Cuttyhunk colony, though
        > brief, is unusually well documented, Mr. Horwitz said, and what’s most
        > remarkable about these accounts is their description of the settlers’
        > encounter with American Indians.
        >
        > On first making landfall in southern Maine, Gosnold’s ship, the Concord,
        > was greeted by a canoe rigged with a mast and sails, so that it was at
        > first mistaken for a European fishing vessel. The Indians onboard “spake
        > diverse Christian words,” one of the Englishmen wrote, “and seemed to
        > understand much more than we.” It turned out they had been trading for
        > years with Basque fishermen.
        >
        > [For the rest of the story:].
        >
        > http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/30/books/30horw.html?ei=5070&em=&en=7379365d9485d7b0&ex=1209700800&pagewanted=all
        > <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/30/books/30horw.html?ei=5070&em=&en=7379365d9485d7b0&ex=1209700800&pagewanted=all>
        >
        >
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