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Re: [pepysdiary] In Love With the History Our Teachers Never Told Us

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  • 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 1 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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