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    Xenophon: Anabasis (Loeb Classical Library)
    by Xenophon
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 June, 1998)
    list price: $21.50 -- our price: $21.50
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    Reviews (17)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible Classic
    Although not as well known by the general populace as other great classics, Xenophon's Anabasis is both an exciting read and classic work of literature. Anabasis tells the tale of 10,000 Greek hoplites in western Persia (modern day Turkey and Iraq), and is a real page- turner. It provides valuable insight into hoplite warfare and the state of Greece and Persia during the time period in which the book was written (circa 400 B.C.).

    Some knowledge of Greek warfare is required to fully appreciate Anabasis. Also, numerous Greek units of measurement are used throughout the book, but their modern equivalents can be found in footnotes in the book.

    The Loeb edition is excellent, and the actual book is of the highest quality. An ancient Greek translation is provided, and hundreds of footnotes provide valuable information to today's reader.
    P.S.- A helpful map is included.

    5-0 out of 5 stars This book is already a movie
    It's called The Warriors.

    I prefer the book.

    4-0 out of 5 stars The Other story Alexander the Great read as a boy
    A fantastic tale that will be retold for generations to come. This is the other story that little Alexander the Great's mother told him repeatedly as a child (besides the Iliad). After reading this you will understand why. A mercenary army makes it's way into Persian lands (modern Turkey) only to find themselves cut off from home in the middle of the campaign with their generals betrayed and slaughtered under the pretenses of a peace offering. With their leadership gone, the mercenaries nominate a handful of lower ranking men to take charge and lead them home. This is Xenophon's story as one of those men chosen to save his brethren. The reader is taken on a journey with this band of starving ruffians as they alternatively fight and talk their way through hostile enemy territory the entire time with an army in pursuit. It would seem to be over-the-top Hollywood script if it weren't true. Xenophon tells us this amazing story in his own words.

    On a seperate note, this is a Loeb Classical Library book. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it means that the left-hand page is written in Greek for those studying (ancient?) Greek. This is an incredible concept for those learning ancient languages. However, for the rest of us it just looks like nifty scribbly stuff that means nothing.

    Another item this book could have used was a really good map. I had to search online to find a relevant map to follow along with the places Xenophon's army was passing through. Even then I was unable to find a decent one that clearly showed the route traveled and clearly identified the towns passed through. Without this one is truly clueless about where the army is at any given point in time.

    Lastly, Xenophon was a decent writer, but not a fantastic, dramatic writer. Some of writing can come across rather dry given the circumstances he is describing - written more for posterity than for dramatic reading. ... Read more

    Isbn: 067499101X
    Sales Rank: 158823
    Subjects:  1. Ancient - Greece    2. Ancient Greece - History    3. Ancient and Classical    4. Historiography    5. Literary Criticism    6. Literature - Classics / Criticism    7. Literature: Classics    8. Cyrus   


    In the Footsteps of Alexander The Great: A Journey from Greece to Asia
    by Michael Wood
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (06 August, 2001)
    list price: $18.95 -- our price: $12.89
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    Editorial Review

    Intrepid explorer in search of the past, British journalist Michael Wood follows the path of Alexander the Great and his army from Macedonia to the Himalayas and beyond in the fourth century B.C. Always one for adventures to match those of his heroes, Wood takes his readers over harsh deserts and snow-clogged passes, stopping off at interesting places along the way: a Zoroastrian temple in Iran, for instance, where we learn that Alexander is regarded as a devil and called Iskander Gujaste, Alexander the Accursed. Devil or no, Wood allows us to appreciate Alexander for the daring of his enterprise: his conquest of southwestern Asia occupied 22,000 miles and two decades. ... Read more

    Reviews (21)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Has Some Valuable Stories From The Modern-Day Spots.
    The story of Alexander The Great remains just as relevant today as it did when the "Alexander Romance" was published many centuries ago, consider that many of the areas he conquered such as Iraq and Iran are still international hot spots today when it comes to the current state of the world. Michael Wood's "In The Footsteps Of Alexander The Great" is an entertaining read because it plays like a cultural travelogue, documenting how the story of Alexander is still passed down from generation to generation in Greece and the Middle East. In some places he is a heroe, in others a ruthless barbarian, even a devil. Woods writes about his journey down Alexander's trek with vivid details, providing fascinating insights into other corners of the globe and the customs found therein. For readers who enjoy learning and reading about other countries and their traditions this will prove to be a fascinating trip. However, the only thing that makes Woods' book not the gem it should be is that in his actual writing of Alexander's history he subscribes to much of what has already been dismissed as propaganda by historians like Robin Lane Fox and authors like Mary Renault. It is no surprise that since Woods is after all making a TV program here, he indulges in the more wild, ear-catching legends surrounding Alexander such as the burning of a temple for the sake of doing something fun when drunk (eventhough Alexander, as was common in Macedon and Greece, enjoyed wine to excessive lengths) and the killing of Betis by dragging him from a chariot to imitate Achilles (this is ridiculous considering Alexander always honored opponents who fought bravely). Woods apparently likes using information gathered from writers like Cleitarchus, who is notorious for writing fictitous accounts with exaggerated numbers, events and even Socrates made fun of the guy for his flights of fancy. Luckily Woods is not writing a biography here but an account of the current state of the lands Alexander conquered and it's peoples. As a journey through these areas and as a look at how potent the image and story of Alexander are today there is no better book. But for an actual reading of the life and times of Alexander The Great, I recommend "Alexander The Great" by Robin Lane Fox and "The Nature Of Alexander" by Mary Renault, two others who write with a more serious sense of scholarship.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Well conceived, with beautiful photographs
    I'll keep this as brief as possible. The book is a well conceived mixture of the history Alexander the Great's Asian conquests and the story of author Michael Wood's quest to follow Alexander's voyage throughout Asia and film it all for a BBC miniseries. He not only draws on the traditional sources such as Arrian and Plutarch, but also on local legends in the areas Alexander captured. The photographs are beautiful, and the maps help give a geographical perspective to the reader. An easy, interesting read, the book can be read in one evening by devoting full attention to the book.
    The only criticism I have is one that is unavoidable by Wood. There are parts that tend to drag a bit, by giving casualty estimates and exact military strategies that would most likely not appeal to the average reader. The best aspect, however, is how Michael Wood gives insight to a brutal, raging alcoholic treated all too kindly by Arrian. It is worth the money to someone genuinely interested in history, but don't waste your time if you're not willing to give the attention this book deserves.

    3-0 out of 5 stars A Fractured but Recognizable Alexander
    Why did Alexander and his men risk their lives across so many continents and seas to mingle with the exotic peoples of Africa and Asia? The question intrigues most of us but British journalist and filmmaker Michael Wood takes a more active approach by brushing aside the texts and retracing Alexander's itinerary with a BBC camera crew. Illustrious scholars like Sir Aurel Stein had done it before, albeit for only a part of the route, but unattended by any Media hype. Another Englishman, Thomas Coryat (AD 1616), thought he had seen relics of Alexander in India. He was greatly impressed by a magnificent (Asokan) pillar and presumed that it must have been erected by Alexander the Great 'in token of his victorie' over Porus. Wood does not know that Coryat was right, that the Delhi-Topra Pillar was indeed brought from the Beas area where Alexander had come.

    Wood's overflowing energy leaves us stunned - he retraces Alexander's journey by car, on horseback and camel, by boat, and at times on foot, yet his hyperbole often betrays a rather obtuse prognosis. He naively accepts the negative views of some Greeks and of the people conquered by Alexander but remains suspicious of any pro-Alexander view, labelling these as propaganda. Ignoring the Sanskrit or Pali sources, he tries to reconstruct Alexander using only the Greek and Roman texts. He rightly says "Alexander's conquest of most of the known world was a crucial turning point in history which opened up contacts between Europe and Asia, paved the way for the Roman Empire and the spread of Islam, and unleashed astonishing historical energies that continue to affect the world today", but misses probably the most important component - Buddhism. Toynbee noted the close links between Buddhism and Hellenism and Tarn gave the clue that the Brahmans(the priestly party opposed to the Buddhists) always fought with Alexander. Moreover wood misses that the real name of Calanus, Alexander's Guru, was Sphines which is the same as Aspines or Asvaghosa, the great Buddhist scholar. As Coryat realized, some of the Asokan pillars were in fact altars of Alexander. Wood has not understood why Plutarch wrote that Alexander's altars were considered to be sacred even by the Mauryas.

    Ignoring the usual Dionysius-Semiramis stories Wood boldy ponders why Alexander took the most dangerous route through Gedrosia, suffering huge casualties (both civilian and military) from lack of water, food, and the extreme heat. He plays with the theory that Alexander may have been exploring whether cities could be founded along the coastline for trade between the India and the Persian Gulf. The simple answer here is that Alexander was chasing the mighty Moeris who was in fact Chandragupta Maurya of Prasii ([another website]). Wood does not even dream that part of the Gulf area in those days could have been part of India. Why did Alexander celebrate his victory over the Indians at Kahnuj?

    Interestingly, although Wood does not recognize Moeris, unlike most modern writers and even Tarn, he suspects that both Hephaistion and Alexander may have been poisoned by a group of Alexander's 'exasperated and disillusioned' senior officers (p. 230). He describes a Zoroastrian temple in Iran where he learns that Alexander is regarded as a devil and called Iskander Gujaste but does not realize that Alexander's enemies united under an anti-Buddhist Zoroastrian nationalist platform. The successes of both Perdiccas and Seleucus were due to the backing they got from Zoroastrian nationalists.

    Although Wood fails at the end to piece together a convincing real life Alexander, the book remains enjoyable on the whole. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0520231929
    Subjects:  1. Ancient - Greece    2. Biography & Autobiography    3. Biography/Autobiography    4. Europe - General    5. Historical - General    6. History - General History   


    In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great
    Director: David Wallace (II)
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    DVD (26 October, 2004)
    list price: $24.99 -- our price: $22.49
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    Editorial Review

    British filmmaker Michael Wood embarks on an idiosyncratic journey of 20,000 miles tracing the expedition of Alexander the Great in this captivating documentary.Relying on the words of Greek and Roman historians, Wood sought to follow Alexander's route of world conquest as closely as possible, and it is simply amazing how much folklore about the great general he is able to pick up on the way. Beginning in Greece and proceeding through 16 countries, including Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, and India, Wood listens intently to local storytellers who are still passing down the legends of Alexander.In one fascinating segment, Wood is barred from entering Iraq, but he is able to view the terrain on which Alexander's troops faced the Persians by scanning the radar screens of an American AWACS plane patrolling high above. In the course of his travels, Wood passes through four war zones and he notes that strategic regions of Alexander's day are still "on the fault lines of history."This is a lengthy production, clocking in at almost four hours, but the relaxed pace is a virtue, as Woods and the people he meets along the way, from local storytellers to noted historians, pass along an amazing array of historical knowledge.Lovers of history will find this documentary to be a joy and may well find themselves savoring every mile of Alexander's great journey.--Robert J. McNamara ... Read more


    • Color
    • Closed-captioned
    Reviews (8)

    4-0 out of 5 stars More of a Travelogue
    This program is extremely well done but it is not a documentary in the traditional understanding. Instead, it is more of a travelogue. Along the way of the travels, we get a good deal of information about the conquerer of the known world as well.

    The program starts out in Macedonia. It then follows the career of Alexander through Asia Minor, Egypt, Iraq (Babylon), Iran (Persia), Afganistan, India and then the final march back to Iran again. Wherever possible, the actual route of Alexander's army is followed. This involved crossing national boundaries, battle lines in civil wars and some really intimidating mountains, goat paths and deserts. It does a good job of bringing out just how remarkable his achievements were.

    This presentation is not chock full of historical facts and hypothesis but both of those are present in respectable quantity. They are present as adjuncts to the wonderful scenery. This progam should appeal to anyone who is interested in either Alexander or in travel to exotic places.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Film worthy of the Big Guy
    If you really want to get an idea of the size of Alexander the Great, then go watch this film. Mr.Woods gives a 1st rate job of tracing the steps of Alexanders thru the Middle and Far East. He also takes great care to give a good hard, honest and balanced look at the man warts and all. In my humble opinion, the phrase what "profits a man who inherits the whole earth but loses his soul" comes to mind after seeing this flim. (Alexander had become a real monster and tryant at the end of his life.)
    Altogether a great Documentary that takes the viewer to places where most of us can't or don't want to go to.(Mr. Wood went to Afghanistan when the Taliban was taking over the place to film the Afghan portion of Al's campaign there.)

    5-0 out of 5 stars If Only More Film makers could tell stories like this!
    I ordered this DVD, along with two books, because I wished to learn more about Alexander the Great as a historical figure.This was after having endured the recently released film disaster of the same name by Oliver Stone.Having earlier watched another of Michael Wood's documentaries, the delightful "The Conquistadores", I was willing to gamble on Mr. Wood's skills as a storyteller a second time.My gamble paid off.

    As a trained historian and history teacher, I was again impressed by Mr. Wood's attention to detail and accuracy.Not once in four hours of viewing, could I jump out of my seat, play the pedant, and shout "Ah Ha!, he is wrong on this point!"

    And the cinematography!I was as riveted by the beauty of the landscapes as I was the engaging and often humorous commentary of the host."In the Footsteps.." deserves kudos for presenting the often desolate parts of the world its subject experienced as haunting and beautiful in their own right.

    Wood's supreme gift, however, is his ability to tell a riveting story.And to tell it in such a warm and affable way as to convey the impression he was sharing it with me personally.It was together we traveled the Hindu Kush, tramped through the snow cappedmountains of Macedonia, and sat huddled with tea drinking Iranians, listening to the tales of "Sikandur", the horned one. Mr. Wood's intention is not to persuade, but instead to educate and stimulate debate.My only regret is that the series was not longer.Whatever happened to the fruits of Alexander's labors and the labors of his men?Sadly, Mr. Wood leaves this tale for another to tell.

    ... Read more

    Asin: B0002V7OGA
    Subjects:  1. Television   


    Alexander of Macedon 356-323 B.C.: A Historical Biography
    by Peter Green
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 September, 1992)
    list price: $19.95 -- our price: $13.57
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    Editorial Review

    There's no shortage of biographies available on Alexander the Great, but PeterGreen's Alexander of Macedon is one of the finest. The prose is crisp and clear, andwithin a few pages readers become absorbed in the world that made Alexander, and then the story of how Alexander remadeit. Green writes, "Alexander's true genius was as a field-commander: perhaps, takenall in all, the most incomparable general the world has ever seen. His gift for speed, improvisation,variety of strategy; his cool-headedness in a crisis; his ability to extract himself from the most impossible situations; his mastery of terrain; his psychological ability to penetrate the enemy's intentions--all these qualities place him at the very head of the Great Captains of history." ... Read more

    Reviews (65)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Alexander, old school
    This is a very detailed book about Alexander, the events immediately before his birth in Macedonia and his epic rise to immortality. Peter Green is no doubt a very keen observer of history and paints a very detailed picture of the different moral and social values that were present during Alexander's time.

    Be warned though, this book was originally written in the early 70's and the style of writing is more textbook/academic than the current vogue of historical biography Ala, Robin Lane Fox: Alexander the Great and Tom Holland: Rubicon. Some serious students of Alexander may feel that some of the ideas presented have moved on somewhat as well.

    Two areas that would have greatly assisted this undertaking are:

    More maps and diagrams would have been helpful to get a better grasp of scale. What little maps there were focused almost entirely on the movements of Alexander and didn't really trace out movements of his various Generals etc.

    A character folio at the back giving a brief overview of all characters presented in the book would have been infinitely helpful. Periodic appearances by minor characters throughout the narrative as well as the proliferation of similar names caused some confusion at times.

    All in all a very enjoyable book but not undertaken lightly. I would recommend this to readers who already have a basic knowledge of Alexander, his life otherwise the sheer volume of detailed info may overwhelm.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Well researched, but somewhat long and droning.
    First off, I am not an Alexander expert.This is the first bio of Alexander that I've read.Second, it's obvious that the author has done a lot of research on Alexander and knows his topic.I have to say, however, that while parts of the story are gripping, a lot of it is long and boring.It comes down to this---once Alexander leaves home to essentially conquer the world, the book is 90% devoted to the military maneuvers.You get very little flavor for what clothes and foods were used.You get very little cultural information that doesn't relate to the military or how Alexander offended or rallied his troops.I'm not a big military buff...I like to get to know the PERSON in the biography and feel as if I know him.The tales of executions and rivalries are my favorite bits...but most of this is Alexander moving from locale to locale.Also, if you're not an expert on the ancient world, the author can quickly lose you with a lot of references to ancient cities or areas that unfamiliar to people living in the modern world.The maps focus tightly on areas so you can't get a sense of how everything fits together.The author's prose is exciting enough...but the endless military stuff bores me.If you want to know what it might be like to meet with and speak with Alexander, this book won't help you understand who he was...only what he did.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Various Facets of Greatness
    If anyone in the history of the world ever deserved to be titled "The Great" it would be Alexander III of Macedon.Born in 356 B.C. to Phillip II and Olympias, Alexander would forever make his name great by leaving Greece to conquer Persia: the largest known empire in antiquity stretching from the Eastern Mediterranean to India. Peter Green's comprehensive biography covers the political and cultural backgrounds surrounding the events of Alexander's life to give the reader a clear picture of the complexeties of his character, the sources of his genius, and the significance of his achievements.

    Peter Green is one of the most respected scholars of classical studies who received his degree at Trinity College, Cambridge where he eventually worked as Director of Classics.Peter Green is presently a tenured professor at the University of Texas, Austin.Not only is this book saturated with important factual information about Alexander and his time, its prose is easy to read with a good level of wit and humor.The book thoroughly explains the political and cultural context in which Macedonia came to power and its impact on the Greek city states.The book is also accompanied with maps detailing Alexander's travels and major battles.

    This is an important work that covers in detail the various facets of Alexander's life: not a simple task for a man who accomplished so much in only 13 years of time; a man who, during that time, had covered almost 40,000 miles of mostly inhospitable territory on horse or on foot with an army varying from 60,000 to over 100,000 men.The book shows that Alexander was not simply a brilliant general who never lost a battle even under overwhelming odds: he was a brilliant politician, an explorer, and a philosopher.Alexander's voyages were not just conquests but explorations into a world that few Greeks knew of.His army was always accompanied by scientists, cartographers, philosophers, etc.: it was a royal court in motion.

    This is a great book and Peter Green has done an outstanding job.I strongly recommend this biography over others for its comprehensiveness and smooth prose which makes reading it enjoyable for readers of almost any age: it's a great buy.

    ... Read more

    Isbn: 0520071662
    Subjects:  1. 356-323 B.C    2. Alexander,    3. Biography    4. Biography / Autobiography    5. Biography/Autobiography    6. Generals    7. Greece    8. Historical - General    9. History    10. the Great,   


    The Travels of Marco Polo
    by Marco Polo
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (01 April, 2002)
    list price: $29.95 -- our price: $19.77
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    Reviews (20)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Marco Polo-The Travels
    The Travels by Marco Polo. Penguin Books. 1958.

    In any review, the reader has to be compelled to have an interest in the subject. What is it about this 800 year old story that would interest the reader? I had always believed that this book was an adventure story about the first European explorer into the mid east and China. I do not know where this notion came from but on both counts, it is wrong. I picked it up and read it because I continually see references from other modern, authors.

    What is compelling about the book is the writer's anthropological approach (however primitive) to viewing the societies that were racially and culturally different from the upper crust European society he was raised in. There is a generosity of spirit in this book that will be detailed more further down.

    It should be noted that like, Benvenuto Cellini's Autobiography, this book features hyperbole if not out right fantasy throughout. There is more than one version of The Travels as well. This book is not written in the first person as it actually is an "As told to" account that apparently was "told to" more than one transcriber. There has been much debate over the years about its veracity but that is for someone else to write about. I chose to read this book as if it were fact and not to fret over the overall truth or its details. That being said lets get into the story.

    Over a period of about 24 years, the young Marco Polo joined his merchant father and his uncle in pursuit of the expansion of their mercantile trade into new regions. This concept should be familiar to any reader who reads about venture capitalism and Red China today. The dynamics may differ but the logic is the same. While this effort led the Polos to discover spices, material and trade routes, it also provided Marco, the opportunity to explore and log his experience with new cultures.

    He is pretty magnanimous in his descriptions of the peoples he met as he traveled from Asia Minor through cities we hear about today such as Hormuz and Baghdad onto China (known then as Cathay) and into parts of Mongolia and Russia. I say that he is big hearted because he added very little value judgment in relating his experience with these cultures. Unfortunately, he limited what he could describe to a small variety of things.

    Religion was broken into three categories. There were Christians (he did break them into a few groups such as Nestorian and Greek Orthodox), followers of Mahomet (Islam) and Idolaters (the rest). In some cases though few, he describes the cultures as having no religion as unlikely as that is. It is my suspicion that they were not devout peoples or their customs were too unusual for Polo to understand their worship. He did not render serious value judgments to the religions that were not Christian though he sort of favored that belief system. Specifically, the heroes of battle between people of differing religions was biased toward the Christians just as the performance of any miracles was.

    Polo described the Great Kings, such as Kublai Khan and the lesser kings who gave allegiance to the former. This was important to him and was noted ad nauseum. He hadgreat respect for Khan including the addition of a Genealogical Chart at the end of the book. He wrote of the Emperor's largesse-assisting the poor, providing examples of fair play and Solomon like wisdom. He also described the ruthless ability to hold power, destroy his enemies and land/nation plundering. He describes these latter events without a hint that anything was wrong with that. Perhaps at this juncture in history, Khan's methods were more civil and humane than the kings in Europe. Based on the North American conquests and slaughtering of Natives 200 years hence, this would seem possible. In my own opinion, the description of Khan reads something like Mario Puzo's Godfather.

    Another area of special interests lies in Polo's interest with the spices, foods, material for clothing and adornment as well as native wood and building styles. This makes sense because that was Marco's career. He was a merchant. He describes in detail, the reasons different techniques were used to build a ship for instance. The description shows that he had a rudimentary scientific method and imparted that to the reader by explaining why certain procedures were performed based on supplies, climate and water conditions among other things.

    Polo was a man of the world and that is obvious by his travels but he was clearly educated well. He brought to his journeys and writing, a skill and perception that would only be a result of solid education. His minimal judgmental phrasing also suggests to me that he saw the world as a big place and was not fettered by provincialism that might be expected from an upper crust 13th century European.

    It is important to note however that the book reveals some of the Magical Realism that undoubtedly prevailed largely in his time. He believed in miracles, reported them on a second hand basis and claimed to see a few himself. It seems again, that by imagining the times and place that this was written, it would be nearly impossible to write a book that denied miracles. He does however toss a tiny bit of skepticism when describing a faith healer (a non Christian one of course). "You must not suppose that because I speak of `Diabolic Art' that that is their account of the matter: They attribute their knowledge to the power of the gods working through a medium of their art". He continues to describe these healers having ready made answers when their "cure" fails and of course it is Divine. Perhaps Benny Hine was acquainted with this book.

    Polo was fairly interested in the sexual practices of these cultures and he reported some of the more lurid ones. In several cultures that he visited he found that the practice of entertaining visitors (of which he was one) by providing them with the sexual favors of their wives, sisters, nieces etc. The men would make the introductions and then depart to some distant retreat while their dear ones essentially prostituted themselves for the visitors satisfaction. He ended one such description by indicating that a man of 16 to 24 would find such a visit much to their liking. This made me wonder how Polo himself liked it but he did not mention such. Another thing to wonder, based on frank discussion of this and details of a pregnancy test in one of his towns, whether sexuality and the Christian's 6th commandment was considered as taboo as it was in say the Victorian Era. I don't know, it is just a thought.

    The reader can enjoy this book for the fantastic descriptions of unicorns (probably rhinos), enormous and scary beasts (probably crocodiles) and men with tails. The reader might enjoy the descriptions of royalty which is one place that hyperbole abounds, for instance it is not uncommon for the story to pronounce that some king had thousands of concubines and thousands of servants and hundreds of thousands of soldiers for single battles.

    The reader might also notice miracles which are plentiful, stories about hens with no feathers, cannibalism and people who live for 150-200 years. They might also marvel at the science that did prevail at the time. There is a description of a messaging system that is easily comparable to America's own Pony Express. Likewise the details of a sewer system that essentially matches our more modern ones, the logic behind curfews and birthing customs all suggest something of interest to me. Specifically, while technology has grown at an extremely rapid pace, people and their logic and belief systems have not really changed dramatically. Nearly, if not all stories that Polo related, have easy counterparts to something or someone that is visible in the media today.

    There is a down side of this book. Previously it was mentioned thatthe veracity of The Travels was subject to question. Apparently in Asian historical chronicles there is no mention of this Italian visitor though there is mention of other European guests. He also describes many societies the same, almost verbatim. This may be due to very little difference between one culture and another or perhaps Polo simple cheated and threw in information that he did not have first hand (a little like the ever growing band of journalists, historians etc. that get revealed regularly in our current world).

    Perhaps the most significant negative comment that could be said about this book is that by our 21st century standards it is just very poorly written. At times it is simply torturous to wade through a meaningless and repetitive description. The book is also written much like we talk. By that I mean phrases like ..."I nearly failed to mention..." are used throughout. Of course in our day the forgotten piece would simply be edited into its correct location and there would be no need for the brief apologetic line.

    I assigned this book to myself for this book review. I enjoyed it despite its flaws and quite frankly, it may be all the fantasy of Polo or his transcriber, but I think the book gives us some insight into the 13th century mind of a learned traveler. For that it passes the litmus test of worthwhile reading.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Enduring
    This is a fascinating and timeless narrative for many reasons. On a somewhat superficial level, Polo's book is a must read for lovers of travel or adventure stories, as it reads like a great lost book of the Bible, rife with historic vengeance, heroic warriors, eccentric mystics, penultimate battles and rallying speeches that seem torn out of the best passages of Thucydides. Many of the practices and beliefs Polo witnessed -- specifically, polygamous peoples, perspectives on sexuality, methods of execution and the dazzling ways in which the people Polo came across attempted to please the gods and interpret the cosmos -- offer a memorable glimpse into a unique historical epoch. Particularly engrossing are the stories of violent tensions between Christian and Islamic sects in Polo's day and region. One gets a sense that not much has changed in the past 800 years as Polo details the struggles between the eastern and western world even then, many of which redound to financial issues (sound familiar?). Polo's insistence on portraying Moslems and Buddhists as savage rogues does make for a one-dimensional and distinctly Christian view of the world as it was in Polo's day, and his language is hardly the most attractive aspect of the book, which is written in a particularly conversational and redundant style. But the stories and characters contained within these pages are epic and unforgettable. I encourage lovers of Tolkein, C.S. Lewis and Rowling to read this book. Lovers of ancient history and philosophy are also bound to adore it. Most impressively, though, is the insight Polo offers into the birth of the now-infamous rift between the western and eastern worlds. This enduring relevance guarantees that we will be reading Polo's "Travels" for centuries to come.

    4-0 out of 5 stars "Never man explored so much as Messer Marco."
    In 1260, Niccolo Polo, the father of Marco Polo, and his brother Maffeo went across Black Sea in the hope of a profitable brisk of trade. So the brothers from Venice brought many dazzling jewels and set out from Constantinople by ship to Sudak and onward to Barku. A war broke out in Barka's Land forced the brothers to travel the opposite direction from which they had come. After they had crossed the desert, they came to Bukhara (in Persia) and by fortuity met a Tartar (Mongol) envoy on the way back to the Great Khan in Khan-balik (Beijing). On learning that they were merchants from Venice whom had never been seen in the country, the envoy invited the brothers to accompany him to Khan-balik to see the Great Khan.

    The Great Khan received the brothers honorably and welcomed them with such lavish hospitality after a year's journey. The curious Khan asked the brothers about their Emperors, about the government of their dominions, about the maintenance of justice, about the Pope and practices of the Roman Church, and about the Latin customs. He decided to send emissaries to the Pope, and asked the brothers to accompany on the mission with one of his barons. He entrusted them a letter written in the Turkish language for the Pope and asked him to send a hundred prominent men learned in the Christian religion to condemn idolaters' performances and shun devil. These well versed were to demonstrate for the idolaters their capability of doing diabolic arts but would not, because only evil spirits performed such enchantments.

    As the brothers approached Egypt, they got wind of the Pope's death and so they would go to Venice and visit their families pending the election of a new Pope. During the homeward voyage, Niccolo learned that his wife had passed away and left behind a 15-years-old son Marco Polo, who authored this book. After staying in Venice for about 2 years, they left for Jerusalem to get the oil from the lamp at Christ's sepulcher which the Great Khan had requested for his deceased mother, who was a Christian. The Travels chronicles the three years' journey back to Khan-balik from Venice, via the ancient trade corridor now known as the Silk Road, and details all the peculiar sights and peoples along the present Iran, Iraq, India, Tibet, Pamir, Mongolia, and China. It also records the many regions Marco Polo traveled during his numerous emissaries for the Great Khan during his 17 years in China.

    The Great Khan found favor with the then 21-years-old Marco Polo, who had acquired a remarkable knowledge of the letters and customs of the Tartars. Observing his wisdom and perspicacity, Khan sent him as his emissary to Kara-jang (Yunnan) in the far southwest, a mission Marco polo fulfilled brilliantly. When he went on his mission, being well aware of mistakes of previous emissaries, he paid close attention to all the novelties and curiosities that came his way, so that he may report them to the Great Khan. On his return Marco Polo would present himself before the Khan and first gave a full account of the business on which he had been sent. Then he went on to recount these remarkable things he sighted on the way. In The Travels, one will find detailed account of interesting, if not bizarre, customs and practices at which Marco Polo marveled, the very same stories that entertained the Khan who became well disposed to the young lad.

    For 17 years, Kubilai (the sixth khan in the Yuan dynasty) was so well satisfied with Marco Polo's conduct of affairs that he held him in high esteem and showed him such favor as keeping him so near his person. He observed more of the peculiarities of China than any of his contemporaries, because he traveled more extensively in these outlandish regions, and not to mention he gave his mind more intently to observing and recording them. The Travels reflects the stupendous extent of his travel, as Marco Polo often bypasses many places that were of no particular interest to him.

    Emissaries sent Marco Polo all over Manzi (southern China) and Cathay (northern China), rendering a vivid delineation of the native people, customs, cultures with amazing verisimilitude. For example, he marveled at the funeral customs in which the deads were provided with horses, slaves, camels, clothes in great abundance - all cut out of paper (a tradition that still prevails among Chinese) and burned alongside. For the Chinese believed the deads would have all the money in gold and all the necessities in the next world, alive in fresh and bone, and that all the honor they did while he was burning would be done to the deads correspondingly in the next world by their gods and idols.

    Marco Polo also wrote a detailed account of India and its practices of diabolic arts and similar funeral customs. From other historical resources, he probably acquired his knowledge partly when he was there on the Khan's business, partly on his return trip with the bride for Arghun, and that he derived some of it from first-hand observation, some from reliable testimony, and some from mariners' charts. He also wrote about the life of Sakyamuni Buekhan, who was revered founder of the Buddhist religion, for he refused to be the successor of his king father but continued to lead a life of great virtue, chastity, and austerity.

    In 1293, the Great Khan reposed such confidence in the brothers that he entrusted to their care not only the princess of Kokachin but also the daughter of the king of the Manzi, so that they might escort them to Arghun, Khan of all the Levant. The Polo brothers' adventure in the East thus completed on the note of a successful escort to Kaikhatu. The Travels, also known as The travels of Marco Polo, chronicled all wonders of Marco Polo's encounters in the East for 33 years.

    2004 (42) ©MY ... Read more

    Isbn: 0871406578
    Sales Rank: 294911
    Subjects:  1. Asia - General    2. Europe - General    3. Expeditions & Discoveries    4. History    5. History - General History    6. History: World    7. World - General    8. China    9. Classic travel writing    10. Geographical discovery & exploration    11. c 1000 CE to c 1500   


    Vinland Sagas: Norse Discovery of America (Classics S.)
    by Magnus Magnusson
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 June, 1965)
    list price: $12.00 -- our price: $9.60
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    Reviews (8)

    4-0 out of 5 stars An awesome read!
    I had to read this for my Scandinavian history class and I am very pleased with this book.It's fascinating to find out what happened with the Greenland and North American settlements by the early Icelandic peoples.My only complaint is that the book spends too much time on geneology rather than historical facts.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Excellent choice but not as literature . . .
    If you are interested in the way in which America came to be known in the European world, this book is an excellent "place" to explore. However, as literature (because that's what the sagas were in the end) the two sagas in this book are not much, i.e., there are quite a few better and more substantial sagas around. So it's kind of hard to give a rating here, using the amazon system, and so I've compromised, splitting the difference, so to speak, to rate this a three! But that shouldn't stop anyone who is interested in this stuff from reading it!

    This book contains the two extant sagas, sparse and perfunctory both, that record the Norse excursions to North America around the year 1000 and over the decade or so following. Although they ostensibly tell the same story with the same players, they actually contain some very distinct and contradictory elements. Both recount the events which led up to and culminated in the discovery of North America by Norsemen out of Greenland but they offer decidely different versions. In Eirik's Saga, Leif Eiriksson stumbles onto North America on a journey home from Norway where he was commissioned by King Olaf Tryggvesson to spread Christianity in Greenland but it's not clear that he ever really lands there. On the other hand, in the Tale of the Greenlanders Bjarni Herjolfsson does the stumbling, fails to make landfall and later, after much criticism for being incurious by the Greenlanders, sells his ship to Leif who does go there and makes the first settlement.

    In the Tale, this commences a series of expeditions, first by Leif, then one of his brothers, then his brother-in-law, Thorfinn Karlsefni, out of Iceland, and finally Leif's illegitimate sister who commits a bloody crime there.

    In Eirik's Saga, on the other hand, the main settler is Thorfinn who, with three ships, seems to compress most of the other expeditions into his own. Leif's illegitimate sister in this saga is a heroine in a battle with American Indians, during Thorfinn's abortive colonization effort, rather than the murderess she is in the Tale.

    But Eirik's Saga also has some very odd entries including mysterious natives rising up out of the ground, attacking Unipeds and strange white-robed people who are described as marching around with some kind of flails. In both sagas there does appear to be a realistic portrayal of American Indians, suggesting the fundamental truth behind the events reported, however, given the discrepancies in the sequence and characterization of many of the events, it is not unfair to question if either saga is fully reliable.

    Besides, based on the saga evidence alone, the actual landing locations have never been pinpointed (though there is clear archaeological evidence since the sixties that there was at least a Norse waystation built on the northern most tip of Newfoundland in roughly that period). In sum, these are interesting, indeed fascinating, stories if your interest is in history, especially of the Norse in the New World. However, as literature, they are skimpy and unsatisfying. There are much better sagas out there including Njal's Saga, Laxdaela Saga, Orkneyinga Saga, Grettir's Saga and Egil's Saga, among others. The Vinland sagas, except for the obvious historical interest they inspire, do not even come close.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect
    The only thing wrong with this book is that it needs to be bigger (in actual size of book) to get the full effect of the sagas in its beautiful icelandic language style ... Read more

    Isbn: 0140441549
    Sales Rank: 136969
    Subjects:  1. Literature - Classics / Criticism    2. Literature: Folklore/Mythology    3. Medieval    4. Other prose: classical, early & medieval   


    Letters from Mexico
    by Hernan Cortes, Anthony Pagden
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 September, 2001)
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    Reviews (3)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Powerful documents that prove Cortes started the "Cortes is
    This book is an excellent new translation of five letters to Charles V, the HRE, four written by Cortes.The first letter, not written by Cortes, seems to have been written with Cortes leaning over the writer's shoulder, for it fits in perfectly with the four Cortes letters, both in sequence and in theme.

    The running theme of all five letters seems to be this:Cortes is a great man who works to bring wealth and glory to Charles V, while overcoming amazing obsticles presented by both Indian and Spanish sources.

    What can be learned from these letters?Not much that can be trusted, other than Cortes is good at "selling" Cortes to the royal court.

    The letters are full of obvious exagerations and vast silences.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
    Anthony Pagden, Harry C. Black Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University, presents his readers with what he feels is the definitive edition of Hernan Cortes letters. Pagden states in his introduction that although his translation was not the first in English, the previous were, "more or less unsatisfactory" (page lxxix). Pagden sticks to the verisimilitude of the letters as much as possible, presenting Cortes' original spellings and place names. The main liberty Pagden admits to have taken, dividing the text into further paragraphs, does not distract the reader or destroy the intent of the work. By using the earliest available manuscripts, the original translations, and numerous primary sources as evidenced by an extensive bibliography, Pagden allows the reader to enter another world, and delve into the mind of the most talked about of all conquerors, Hernan (Hernando, Fernando) Cortes. Five letters are presented for synaptic digestion. However, the first letter presented is actually not written by Cortes. The unknown author speaks highly of Cortes, though. The other letters, penned by Cortes, describes the exact minutiae of what he paints as a perilous journey. What makes these letters so readable and enjoyable is the reader gains an intimate knowledge of the pageantry of the 16th century, and a first-hand account of what must have been clash of Spanish and New World cultures. The letters written by Cortes are revelatory.He must have had either a tremendous memory (the shortest letter is fifty-six pages long whereas the longest is 122 pages) or a fervent imagination. It is not inconceivable, then, and Cortes' prose intimates this, that he was an educated man. The letters also show that Cortes was very deferential - as he addresses his head of state, every few pages Cortes begins a new thought with phrases such as, "Most Powerful and Invincible Lord", "Your Majesty", and "Most Catholic Lord." For the contemporary reader this can be distracting. From the triumph of Conquest, the reader finds Cortes ends as a broken man, literally begging King Charles for monies to pay his increasing debts. Certainly these are not all the letters Cortes wrote to his monarch. What letters presented represent a unique opportunity. Herein lays the thinking of the man who led a handful conquerors and New World allies to bring down an empire. In this respect, the work succeeds brilliantly, for the mind of Cortes leaps out in his letters.
    I might have read a different edition than the one advertised, so the page numbers might not match up.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Oranges and Hernan Cortes
    The story begins with the planting of A Orange Tree and ends with the theconquest of Mexico. Cortes is a man driven by adventure and the lure ofwealth in the new lands. It is however sad that he ends up in love with theplace and culture that he finally destroys. The book gives a blow by blowdescription of the political intrigue of the church, the crown and ofcourse Cortes men. At one point in the book the fighting is so brutal thatCortes is literally hacking the Aztec warroirs to death as steel meets woodin a no contest.Montezouma is perhaps the most tagic figure given that heis a child not a leader. The insights that Cortes rrecordrds give afascinating account in a true historical sense. It is a book that destroysthe idea that conquistidores like Cortes are bigger than life.The bookreaffirms a tragic tale with its detail descriptions. A great read forenthusiasts of Mexican historyLeigh Collins ... Read more

    Isbn: 0300090943
    Sales Rank: 222842
    Subjects:  1. History    2. History - General History    3. History: World    4. Latin America - Mexico    5. Mexico - History    6. Renaissance    7. History / Mexico   


    The Discovery and Conquest of Mexico: 1517-1521
    by Bernal Diaz Del Castillo
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (20 January, 2004)
    list price: $21.00 -- our price: $14.28
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    Reviews (4)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A eyewitness account of Cortez'conquest of Mexico
    This first hand account of Cortez's conquest of Mexico was written by Bernal Diaz', one of Cortez swordsmen. It is perhaps the most interesting and detailed first hand account of a historical event ever written. Diaz' writes about the battles, Cortez' manipulation of the various Indian tribes and his own men, and he provides intimate details on the personality of Montezuma. It is an exciting, powerful, informative, cover to cover, real-life, adventure.

    Another good read on this subject are Cortez's letters to the King. As can be seen, Cortez' was in hot water because he co-opted the expedition to serve his own ends, and he was trying to con (And intimidate) the King into favoring him, rather than the governer of Cuba, from whom he stole the expedition. Cortez' tried to convince the king that he could get millions of indians to follow him, and that they could make brass cannons, gun powder, etc. ( Which by implication, could be used against any forces to bring him to justice.) He also bribed the king by sending him some of the gold that he stole from the indians, and implying the he could send much, much more. As can be seen, one of Cortez' other swordsmen went on to conquer the Incas, by using the same methods that Cortez used against the Aztecs.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Thrilling, daunting
    A very graphic, realistic and shuddering account of the discovery and conquest of Mexico by one who witnessed this major historical event from 1517 to 1521.

    Although a lengthy narrative, the reader will find themself vehemently ripping through the pages of Bernal Diaz' reminiscences while anticipating the next turn of events. With a plethora of plot twists, there is never a sluggish moment.

    Prior to his experiences with Cortes on the conquest of Mexico, Diaz gives us an account of his two previous expeditions with Cordova and Grijalva to the east coast of Central America from 1517-1518.Battles were fought, different cultures were found, and gold was discovered among the indigenous people. This beaconed the governor of Cuba to send Cortes to these lands for `settlement', with the fundamental motivation for the quest of riches.

    We read of how Cortes and his men fought many battles on the trail to Montezuma's city of gold.Cortes was indeed a smooth talker, always attempting peace efforts first by making promises and talking flattery while distributing gifts to the Indian tribes he met along the way, all the time with the underlying theme of Christianity.This lead to a growing number of Indian allies, who for the most part had developed a deep-seated hatred for Montezuma due to his unmerciful plundering of villages for human sacrifices to please their gods.Cortez, after nearly losing main battles to overtake Tenochtitlan (Mexico City), finally comes in with 150,000 Indian allies to conquer the city of gold.
    For the armchair adventure seeker, this book has it all.

    5-0 out of 5 stars CONQUEST: THE GOSSIP
    I thought Hugh Thomas's CONQUEST, with its hundreds of sources, included everything there was to know (and his wry British wit makes the tragedy of Montezuma's cowardice read like a novel), but Diaz adds a whole new perspective. Thomas, for example, writes that a Castilian castaway who decided to stay with the Maya, Gonzalo Guerrero, was "ashamed" of his tattoos and pierced body parts. We find out from Diaz's account that this is a gross misinterpretation. Upon hearing of his rescue, Guerrero in fact tells his fellow rescuee, the famous Geronimo de Aguilar, "Are you nuts? I have a wife and three kids! Look at these beautiful children!" Aguilar suggests bringing his family along, but Guerrero's happy with his new life [and has a heroic-sized statue in Yucatan for his leadership against the Spanish - wife and children by his side]. How does the conversation end? Guerrero's Mayan wife does the logical thing and tells Aguilar in no uncertain terms to get the [expletive deleted] out of her house.

    Diaz's description of how another Spanish castaway, a dog, bounds joyfully into a Spanish boat "leaps off the page," as it were. Historian Thomas gives us a much broader picture, but leaves out details that would only interest a foot soldier (how one gets a pretty girl for the night at Montezuma's palace, for example). The paperback was translated by someone who isn't an historian, which makes the guileless writing of old Diaz all the more immediate. A must-read for those fascinated by the century between the voyages of the Santa Maria and the Mayflower -- the century when everything interesting happened.
    ... Read more

    Isbn: 030681319X
    Sales Rank: 115915
    Subjects:  1. Europe - Spain & Portugal    2. Expeditions & Discoveries    3. History    4. History - General History    5. History: World    6. Latin America - Mexico    7. Mexico - History   


    The Broken Spears : The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico
    by J. Jorge Klor de Alva, Miguel Leon-Portillo
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (04 May, 1992)
    list price: $18.00 -- our price: $18.00
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    Reviews (21)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Exceedingly Sweet action!!!
    I got this book because I find pre-columbian Mesoamerica fascinating, and I also enjoy the vivid clash of cultures which occured when the Spaniards arrived there.This book describes the conflict between the Aztecs and Spaniards superbly! This book is somewhat unique among histories because it takes the point of view of the vanquished rather than the victors. It starts from before the Spaniards arrive with eerie premonitions of eminent doom to the fall of Tenochtitlan and the suffering associated with that, then proceeds to give a short account of the plight of the native Nahuas after the conquest.Leon-Portilla uses a vast array of native sources from the Florentine Codex to the Cantares Mexicanos(which consists of Native American songs about the conquest), and combines them to create a lively and pleasant read, and its fairly short length add to its overall unburdensome style.In fact for me this book was harder not to read than to read. The tale is full of lively adventure, fascinting omens and cultural tidbits(such as the Aztec dedication to human sacrifice and their belief that the Spaniards were gods), violence, and sorrow.This book is a must for the Aztec fan, the conquistador fan, or anyone who likes an engaging story that just happens to be history.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great account of the barbaric Europeans
    Great account of the attrocities committed by inhuman European criminals.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Informative book
    "The Broken Spears" is a very informative book and gives readers an insight on the Mexican/Aztec point of view of the conquest of Mexico by the Spanish.
    The introduction is very helpful so don't skip it like I tried to!Some of the text does get boring at times but if you're reading this book for a college class keep your eyes open and notebook handy, you'll need it to keep places and names straight.
    For all those below who hated the book, maybe you're right, but did you understand it and the point for the writting of this book? ... Read more

    Isbn: 0807055018
    Sales Rank: 51902
    Subjects:  1. Ancient - General    2. Aztecs    3. Conquest, 1519-1540    4. First contact with Europeans    5. History    6. History - General History    7. History: World    8. Indians of Mexico    9. Latin America - Mexico    10. Mexico    11. Mexico - History    12. Nahuatl literature    13. Sources    14. Translations into Spanish    15. History / General   


    Castaways: The Narrative of Alvar Nunez Cabeza De Vaca (Latin American Literature and Culture, No 10)
    by Alvar Nunez Cabeza De Vaca
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 August, 1993)
    list price: $18.95 -- our price: $18.95
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    Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Valuable source of information about Texas history
    I read this book for a Spanish literature course as an example of early Spanish writing in America.This story has value in that it provides information on the background of early Spanish exploration, the truemotivations and intentions of the explorers (or conquistadors), and theirencounters with the native people on the Texas and Florida coasts.

    Itis interesting to read about Texas as a foreign land as seen through theeyes of the author because I grew up there.It was fascinating to realizethe adventures and drama that occured so many hundreds of years ago whentwo cultures collided and no one was positive who would dominate.We knowtoday who did, but at that time, the master (conquistador) did become theslave (of the natives) for seven years.In this way, a valuable account oftribal life and culture is written first-hand, but many years after theevents took place.

    One thing I noticed is that Cabeza de Vaca stillmaintains a sense of superiority in that he never refers to any of thenative people by their names in the book.It may be that he forgot thenames over time.Or, he never considered it of importance because thenatives were "barbarians" and intellectually inferior in hiseyes. I'm also not sure that the author reveals the full truth of his rolein the events that took place once he met up with the other conquistadorsin Texas after his enslavement.He's a little too much the hero.WhileCabeza de Vaca is somewhat sympathetic towards the native people, one feelsthat Cabeza de Vaca still looks upon the Europeans as explorers andevangelists, while those being explored and evangelized saw the Europeansas conquerors and gold-diggers.But we don't have their account.

    Otherthan this, the book is very informative and filled with detailedinformation on geography and culture.I also purchased the Spanish versionand so realized that the English translation is excellent.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely basic to anyone living in Texas and the Southwest
    To read so much live detail about the way of life of the original inhabitants of parts of Texas and the Southwest is to have one's very conceptions about these places changed. It's an amazing, short read and theeditor helps with notes in critical places. I think this is basic readingfor anyone even part-way interested in the history of Texas and neighboringstates. Cabeza de Vaca's account covers hair-raising events which occurredin the 1530s right here on Galveston Island, so it gives a longer sense ofpost-Columbian history than one usually gets as a lay reader of Texas andSouthwest history. I too don't know why more folks aren't talking aboutthis book. I'm buying copies to give away.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Tale by de Vaca himself of his trials in America
    Hard to follow at times, you get confused as to how many people are actually following him!It is sometimes slow reading.Yet, the informantion in the book is good. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0520070631
    Sales Rank: 328047
    Subjects:  1. 16th cent    2. America    3. Biography    4. Discovery And Exploration (General)    5. Discovery and exploration    6. Early accounts to 1600    7. Explorers    8. History - General History    9. History: World    10. Indians of North America    11. Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, Alvar,    12. Southwestern States    13. Spain    14. United States - Colonial Period   


    Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe
    by Laurence Bergreen
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (14 October, 2003)
    list price: $27.95 -- our price: $18.45
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    Reviews (59)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Historical Page-Turner
    "Over the Edge of the World" would be a great novel if it weren't non-fiction.The story of Ferdinand Magellan's expedition, it mixes solid historical narrative with vivid descriptive writing.The book deals with the politics surrounding the voyage (the race between Spain and Portugal to new places), the economics (who would guess that spices were worth more than gold?), and the cultures (unknown Asian cultures meet Western culture for the first time).The reader marvels at the aggressive, competitive human spirit that drives people to willingingly suffer and risk their lives to get places first and control resources.The unbelievable hardships of the explorers and sailors reminds the reader of "Into Thin Air" and the Shakelton adventures. The human drama of the personalities on the Magellan expeditions, the leadership crises, the mutiny, the idealism, the avarice, and the bravery almost overshadow the importance of this expedition as the first successful circumnavigation of the planet.

    5-0 out of 5 stars History Comes Alive
    In "Over the Edge of the World," Bergreen tackles the difficult task of taking translated, five-hundred year-old journals ofMagellan's famous voyage and making a story that is interesting, historically accurate, and tells the reader something he'd not heard before.

    Bergreen succeeds on all counts.While most kids hear about the first circumnavigation in grade school, they could not have an inkling of the difficulties and travails that faced Magellan in getting the trip off the ground, or the struggles of the Captain-General and crew while at sea.

    Bergreen uses the observations of Pigafetta (a fascinating character with an unfortunate name) to frame most of the story.It's a fine choice; Pigafetta seems reliable, if not completely neutral.

    After finishing the story, I immediately began searching for the writings of Pigafetta, eager to examine the primary documentson which this fine book was based. (They're out of print.)

    Many thanks to Bergreen for bringing this legendary feat of exploration so vividly to life.

    4-0 out of 5 stars extraordinary
    I'm sure like most people, my knowledge of Magellan was limited to knowing that he set out the circumnavigate the globe, was killed in the Phillipines, and the remainder of his crew completed the trip. This book manages to provide many, many details about the voyage and yet the story never bogs down. It's an extraordinary trip and reveals the fears, customs and conditions of that age. Highly recommended. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0066211735
    Sales Rank: 18277
    Subjects:  1. 16th century    2. Adventurers & Explorers    3. Biography    4. Biography / Autobiography    5. Civilization    6. Explorers    7. Historical - General    8. History    9. History: World    10. Magalhaes, Fernao de,    11. Maritime History    12. Portugal    13. Special Interest - Adventure    14. Travel    15. Voyages around the world    16. World - General    17. d. 1521   


    The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd
    by Richard Zacks
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (June, 2002)
    list price: $25.95 -- our price: $17.13
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    Reviews (46)

    4-0 out of 5 stars More about politics, less about piracy...
    I read this book several months ago, and I liked this book very much not only because this book contained a lot of interesting anecdotes of sailors and pirates, but also because it helped me to understand British politics in late 17 century. For example, stories about man-eaters in Andaman Islands and tailed people in Nicobar Islands were fascinating enough, though I am still not sure whether there were really tailed people in Nicobar Islands in the 17th century.
    But the focus of this book is on the British politics of the times. Captain Kidd was not a pirate, but a pirate hunter or a privateer. And he was a decent man according to the standard of the times. The King of England was one of his sponsors. He was actually doing King's business. But he became a pirate quite mysteriously. His biggest mistake was that he endangered the interest of British East India Company by seizing a merchant ship of a prince of Mogul Empire. The ship was carrying a French pass, and France was at war with England. Seizing the ship was, therefore, a perfectly legal operation according to the law of the times. But the Emperor of India thought that British East India Company should be responsible for it. And the company had to compensate for it thereby setting a bad precedent.
    Captain Kidd was from Scotland, but he wanted to become an admiral of British Empire. Blinded by his ambition, he could not understand the political current of the times. So his entire life was ruined. Compassion for this unfortunate man!

    3-0 out of 5 stars Great Subject - Okay Writing
    This is a fascinating subject - what's the real story of Captain Kidd? I was so excited to get this book - and disappointed in the writing style.Mr. Zacks writing is factual, but unfortunately he jumps around and is not engaging to the reader.Read it if you must find all the details -- but for the overall story -- Stick with "Under the Black Flag", "The Pyrates" by Daniel Dafoe and "The Pirates own book".

    5-0 out of 5 stars Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction
    The Captain Kidd who comes down to us through oral tradition bears no resemblance whatsoever to the true Captain Kidd, and as is almost always the case with the mythologies of historical persons, the truth is even more fascinating than the myth.

    Richard Zacks has written a marvelous reconstruction of the rise and demise of Captain William Kidd. Zacks' depth of research and attention to detail fully immerses the reader in the period. It is the late 17th Century, the American Republic is, as yet, still two generations away. The British Empire consists only of a tentative foothold in Bombay, scurvy is still the scourge of sea travel, and ships are steered at the rudder rather than via the more familiar wheel.

    Some readers may be overwhelmed by the level of detail Zacks includes, but without this detail The Pirate Hunter would have been little more than a minor work; a hobby topic. I found Zacks' style of writing to be quick and quirky, while his construction of historical events read like an adventure novel. The reader completes The Pirate Hunter with not only a deep knowledge of the life and motivations of Captain Kidd, but also a strong understanding of this period in history.
    ... Read more

    Isbn: 0786865334
    Sales Rank: 94852
    Subjects:  1. 1701    2. Biography    3. History    4. History - General History    5. History: World    6. Kidd, William,    7. Maritime History    8. Modern - 17th Century    9. New York (State)    10. Pirates    11. Reference    12. History / Reference    13. Kidd, William    14. Biography & Autobiography    15. Adventurers & Explorers   


    Sack of Panama, The
    by PeterEarle
    Hardcover (05 March, 1982)
    list price: $16.95
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    Isbn: 0670614254
    Sales Rank: 763060
    Subjects:  1. History / General    2. Morgan, Henry   

    Death raft: The human drama of the Medusa shipwreck
    by Alexander McKee
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Unknown Binding (1976)
    list price: $8.95
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    Reviews (4)

    4-0 out of 5 stars A complete and exciting account of human tragedy.

    This is a tale of human endeavour and tragedy so great that an oil painting of the survivors from the wreck of the Medusa on board their raft actually hangs in the Louvre Art Gallery in Paris.It is a story of a shipwreck in the early part of the 19th Century where a few of those who survived the original wrecking set out on a raft seeking rescue. Many of them made it - but many did not.

    It is a harrowing tale of survival against everything that both life and death can throw at a group of people when they are at extreme disadvantage.

    Once again Alexander McKee provides the reader with a well researched and equally well presented book based on a factual story from the sea. It is also an excellent read - which is exactly what I have come to expect from this author.


    4-0 out of 5 stars A complete and exciting account of human tragedy.
    This is a tale of human endeavour and tragedy so great that an oil painting of the survivors from the wreck of the Medusa on board their raft actually hangs in the Louvre Art Gallery in Paris.It is a story of a shipwreck in the early part of the 19th Century where a few of those who survived the original wrecking set out on a raft seeking rescue. Many of them made it - but many did not.

    It is a harrowing tale of survival against everything that both life and death can throw at a group of people when they are at extreme disadvantage.

    Once again Alexander McKee provides the reader with a well researched and equally well presented book based on a factual story from the sea. It is also an excellent read - which is exactly what I have come to expect from this author.


    4-0 out of 5 stars Horrifying story
    This is a well-told story of a horrible drama that unfolded in the early 1800's.Not just the story of another shipwreck, this book details the aftermath:an attempted political whitewash, and the struggle for the truth by those who were involved.

    What makes this story so tragic, in addition to the many who died, is the fact that at so many points along the way, the calamitous end could have been averted, were it not for selfishness, incompetence, and ineptitude.

    At the end of the book, the author compares and contrasts the Medusa tragedy with more modern cases of groups being stranded in inclement conditions, including the plane that went down in the Andes several decades ago.

    I thought the book was well written, well constructed, and it did a great job of holding my attention. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0684148099
    Sales Rank: 1130365

    The Journals of Lewis and Clark (Lewis & Clark Expedition)
    by Stephen E. Ambrose, Bernard DeVoto
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (30 April, 1997)
    list price: $14.00 -- our price: $11.20
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    Reviews (19)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great Historical/Adventure Literature
    This would be, if I could do it, a two-part review.To the source material itself, the journals, I would award five stars out of five--six out of five, even, spelling errors and all, for it's absolutely superb stuff.I have read a fair bit in the adventure and exploration line of literature, but nothing as good as these journals for conveying what it felt like to be on such an expedition.Often, it is the little detail at the end of a day's entry that works the magic; for example, when you read several dozen times about the mosquitoes and gnats being "verry troublesome," or "exceedingly troublesome," it tells you something.As does Lewis's quiet contentment with a bellyful of fresh meat after a long and weary hike.And, as Stephen Ambrose notes in his moving and evocative foreword to this book, the fact that these are on-the-fly journal entries--not memoirs--means that the reader sees the good and the bad choices, the discovery that went on along the way.You will probably recognize at once, for instance, that not all grizzlies will be as easy to kill as the first one the corps encounters, but they don't know that, and you are there to read of their changing opinion of these bears as they meet more and more of them.So the raw material is first rate.
    The second part of my review would be for the editing, and I would give that four stars out of five.DeVoto, for all his erudition, does make something of a nuisance of himself from time to time.In the first place, he was clearly writing for the "Manifest Destiny" camp of historians--an outlook now taken with a few grains of salt.Here he is, for example, commenting on the earliest hostile encounter with an Indian tribe, "Indian bluster immediately collapsed and from then on the terrible Tetons were mere beggars.The moral of the episode was that a new breed of white men had come to the Upper Missouri, one that could not be scared or bullied.The moral was flashed along the Indian underground faster than the expedition traveled.It explains why the captains were received with such solicitous respect by the Arikaras," etc (p.34).So there's a bit of that sort of thing to put up with.Also, for reasons I cannot fathom, DeVoto inserts bridging passages, paraphrases, in certain spots rather than using actual journal entries.One of these is the death and burial of the expedition's one fatality.How did the captains and the other men react to this?I would have liked to know that.There's another such paraphrase covering Sacagawea's incredible meeting with her long-lost brother.What did Lewis and Clark think of that amazing coincidence?We're not told by this book.
    All in all, however, this is a magnificent read, and my quibbles above don't detract materially from its enjoyment.If I have one suggestion for anyone looking to read this, however, it would be to view Ken Burns's extraordinary PBS documentary on the expedition first; your library should have it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Hard to overpraise
    The powerful experience of reading this book leads me to search my memory for comparisons.This was an Event in my literary life, but comparable to what, whom?Canetti's "Crowds and Power," Eliot's "Middlemarch," Shakespeare's plays?All quite different.Least Heat Moon's "Blue Highways?"Unfair to that book to compare.No, this was a singular experience, unlikely to be repeated in its, or any other, genre. I want to say it was the most moving and exhilarating tome by any NON-professional writers in memory.

    Through the diurnal accounts are discerned a spectacular natural panorama, an early American mind-set, an anthropology of native North Americans, and--asunexpected as they were inadvertent--self-portraits of two temperate, honest and altogether winning protagonists.Their spelling is atrocious (though we are happy the editor left it uncorrected), but as these were, after all, early 19th century gentlemen, they are characteristically eloquent, in the best sense of that word.

    All the praise for these Journals is deserved.One needn't be a particular student of history to appreciate them--they are rewarding on many, many levels.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book
    You have to read this book to consider yourself an American Citizen.This is a great book about a great time.It takes out all of the boring facts and figures and tells you the story of the greatest expedition of all time. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0395859964
    Sales Rank: 2910
    Subjects:  1. (1804-1806)    2. Description and travel    3. History    4. History - General History    5. History: American    6. Lewis and Clark Expedition    7. To 1848    8. U.S. - Discovery And Exploration    9. United States - 19th Century    10. United States - Antebellum Era    11. United States - West - General    12. West (U.S.)    13. Clark, William    14. History / United States / 19th Century    15. Lewis, Meriwether   


    In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
    by NathanielPhilbrick
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 May, 2001)
    list price: $14.00 -- our price: $11.20
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    Editorial Review

    The appeal of Dava Sobel's Longitude was, in part, that it illuminated a little-known piece of history through a series of captivating incidents and engaging personalities. Nathaniel Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea is certainly cast from the same mold, examining the 19th-century Pacific whaling industry through the arc of the sinking of the whaleship Essex by a boisterous sperm whale. The story that inspired Herman Melville's classic Moby-Dick has a lot going for it--derring-do, cannibalism, rescue--and Philbrick proves an amiable and well-informed narrator, providing both context and detail. We learn about the importance and mechanics of blubber production--a vital source of oil--and we get the nuts and bolts of harpooning and life aboard whalers. We are spared neither the nitty-gritty of open boats nor the sucking of human bones dry.

    By sticking to the tried and tested Longitude formula, Philbrick has missed a slight trick or two. The epicenter of the whaling industry was Nantucket, a small island off Cape Cod; most of the whales were in the Pacific, necessitating a huge journey around the southernmost tip of South America. We never learn why no one ever tried to create an alternative whaling capital somewhere nearer. Similarly, Philbrick tells us that the story of the Essex was well known to Americans for decades, but he never explores how such legends fade from our consciousness. Philbrick would no doubt reply that such questions were beyond his remit, and you can't exactly accuse him of skimping on his research. By any standard, 50 pages of footnotes impress, though he wears his learning lightly. He doesn't get bogged down in turgid detail, and his narrative rattles along at a nice pace. When the storyline is as good as this, you can't really ask for more. --John Crace, Amazon.co.uk ... Read more

    Reviews (225)

    4-0 out of 5 stars In The Heart Of The Sea
    Philbrick does a wonderful job of pulling you back in time to Nantucket Island in the 1800s.With his vivid descriptions not only can you envision the island, but you're also given a feel of how important the fishing and whaling industry was at this time, "Nantucket was a town of roof dwellers.Nearly every house, its shingles painted red or left to weather into gray, had a roof-mounted platform known as a walk.While its intended use was to facilitate putting out chimney fires with buckets of sand, the walk was also an excellent place to look out to see with a spyglass, to search for the sails of returning ships."Details are one of this author's extreme strengths.You gain a vast amount of knowledge on topics such as the roles men and women played within the Nantucket culture in history, what happens to the human body physiologically when it wastes away from starvation and dehydration, and of course; the dangerous world of whaling in history, how and why it occurred.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Consuming read
    A mind-blowing Poe-ish experience of adventure and woe.Philbrick is to be commended on his genius of researching and recreating the sad but true tale of the battered, sunken 1820 whaleship Essex and its shipmates.
    After being rammed by an eighty-five foot monster sperm whale, twenty men leap into three whale boats and aimlessly wander around the Pacific for ninety days.Except for a brief visit at an uninhabited island, the men subsist on next to nothing until some of them start to perish from lack of food, water, exertion and nature.Only eight survive the ordeal (three of those being rescued months later at the aforementioned island).The accounts of these men clinging to life are beyond the scope of human imagination.
    The basis for Melville's classic Moby Dick.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Pacific Blues
    Epics rouse the heroic, the tragic, the self in extremis. I, for one, am content for others to scale the Himalayas, the Andes and endure privations that leave me cosily to tend the garden.But I don't in the least mind reading of other's travails, especially when the writing can convey the spectrum of sense data that challenges the participants.'The Heart of the Sea' recounts one of the great whaling stories of the C19th, and without subtracting from the ethos of Nantucket's society, quite plausibly suggests how, if the tragedy of the 'Essex' could not be avoided, could have unfolded differently had the social mix been different. A relatively recent publication of one of the survivor's accounts, adds to Nathaniel Philbrick's grasp. Without studious fuss, he embeds relevant data on what happens to bodies deprived of water and food over extrended periods, cannabalism, the manner by which whaling crafts were built, navigation means of the early C19th and fullsome images of the spectre of the whale and its value to the industry of those times. Above all there is the shadow of Mellville's mammoth, Moby, a momentous story that surely guided Philbrick's magnificently evocative re-telling.The salt is on every page and the sea's rhythmns shape the irrevocable pace of the writing. Utterly consuming. Readers excited by this book might look at Alexander McKee's,'Death Raft' about the survivors of the French frigate,'Medusa' which wrecked only a few years before the 'essex'. While not rivalling Philbrick's poetic language, it is worth a dip. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0141001828
    Subjects:  1. Essex (Whaleship)    2. History    3. History - General History    4. History: American    5. Latin America - Mexico    6. Maritime History    7. Pacific Ocean    8. Ships & Shipbuilding - History    9. Ships & Shipbuilding - Shipwrecks    10. Shipwrecks    11. United States - 19th Century    12. History / General   


    South: A Memoir of the Endurance Voyage
    by Ernest Shackleton, Sir Ernest Shackleton
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 September, 1998)
    list price: $15.95 -- our price: $10.85
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    Editorial Review

    Soon after the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole in 1911, his Anglo-Irish rival, Sir Ernest Shackleton, sought to top the feat by making his way from one end of Antarctica to the other on sledge. He set off with a crew of 28, including scientists and a movie cameraman, but the voyage turned disastrous when Shackleton's ship, the Endurance, became hopelessly stuck in pack ice, throwing the men (and the dogs brought to pull the sledges) into a desperate battle for survival. South is Shackleton's own account--one of the critical sources for Alfred Lansing's bestseller Endurance--of what it was like to be "helpless intruders in a strange world," a vivid narrative in which tales of Edwardian pluck are counterpointed with lyrical accounts of whales, penguins, and bizarre mirages. This story of a group of men who beat nearly impossible odds to escape death and make their way home is one of the all-time great survival stories. --Robert McNamara ... Read more

    Reviews (31)

    5-0 out of 5 stars the straight-ahead momentum of an ice breaker
    His party stranded on an ice floe hundreds of miles from their destination, beyond the reach of the outside world -- even had the outside world known they needed help, or where to look -- his ship crushed by countless miles of pack ice and supplies running low, Ernest Shackleton spent not a moment in lamentation. He set about saving his crew and himself. They made their way to a small, desolate bit of island shore, from which Shackleton and five men journeyed 800 miles in a 22-foot open boat across the most dangerous sea in the world. A trek through miles of snow-covered mountain wilderness finally brought rescue. And everybody survived! Shackleton's is an epic tale of true adventure and derring-do, and he tells it with the straight-ahead momentum of an ice breaker diving into the pack. He sees beauty in the Antarctic, and he carries a touch of poetry (Browning, anyway) in his soul. He is also a detail man, and his flights of descriptive eloquence bog down amid facts, figures, wind speeds and diatomous striations. But this piling-on of minutiae proves riveting in the action sequences (most of the book). We feel like we are there. Having told his own party's tale, Shackleton gives a useful if anticlimactic account of the Ross Sea wing of the expedition - a story with its own generous measure of adventure, heroism and poignancy.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Poor Shackleton
    Poor Shackleton. In all his life it seems he allways came late or second, allmost made it or, as in this story, did not reach his goal at all.
    Most amazing in his last expedition is that no lives were lost, though probably encountering the worst circumstances of the expedions I know of.
    Most remarkably are the stunning photo's by Frank Hurley. The negatives were either transported over ice and sea, or (no book provided me with that information) were allready developed on the ice. In my copy of this book (printed probably around 1935), but not found in all later editions, one of these negatives is ingood quality full-colour, made in 1914!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Quite a tale of human survival
    I want to dispell a couple of myths that seem to be pervading a handful of the reviews for this book.First, this book is NOT a cure for insomnia.This book is unbelievable exciting, and if it puts you to sleep so quickly, then your attention span has obviousley been severely warped by television or some other dumbing-agent.Secondly, the language, though written 80+ years ago, is not that challenging.I'm no linguist, but I didn't notice a difference between Shakleton's phrasing and word choice and the writing of today's writers.The fact that it was written so long ago does not make it boring.I think his book has aged quite well.

    Was it the MOST exciting book I've ever read?Of course not! (That award likely goes to Helter Skelter)But Shakleton was not aiming to create an edge of the seat thriller (although he did come close!).He was only trying to, as acurately as possible, tell his heroic tale of survival in as much detail as he could provide.

    The book's only shortcoming:I wish it included a much more detailed set of maps with which I could follow Shakleton's moves.I was constantly referring to the basic map at the beginning of my book only to be dissapointed by its lack of detail.There were countless references to islands that were not marked on the map in my book. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0786705973
    Subjects:  1. 1874-1922    2. Biography & Autobiography    3. Biography/Autobiography    4. Endurance (Ship)    5. Expeditions & Discoveries    6. History - General History    7. Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1917    8. Journeys    9. Literary    10. Polar Regions    11. Shackleton, Ernest Henry,    12. Sir,    13. Antarctica    14. Shackleton, Ernest Henry   


    Scott's Last Expedition: The Journals
    by Robert Falcon Scott, Beryl Bainbridge
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 December, 1996)
    list price: $14.95 -- our price: $14.95
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    Editorial Review

    In November 1910, a ship called Terra Nova left New Zealand on its way south to Antarctica. On board was an international team of explorers led by Robert Falcon Scott, a man determined to be the first to reach the South Pole. A year and a half later, Scott and three members of his team died during a brutal blizzard. Their dream of reaching the Pole first had already been dashed by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, and now on their return trip--slowed by ill health and bad weather--Scott's party found themselves trapped in a tent without sufficient provisions, while the wind howled endlessly outside. Even in his final hours, Scott found the strength to continue the journal he'd started at the beginning of his adventures; the diary was found beside his frozen body.

    Scott's Last Expedition: The Journals is the explorer's detailed account of his time in Antarctica. The team's daily progress towards their final goal is recorded in Scott's vivid, personal narrative, as well as his impressions of the harsh conditions, the stark beauty of the tundra, and his own increasingly desperate ambition to beat his rivals to the Pole. Shortly before he died, Scott wrote: "Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman." Robert Falcon Scott and his men died, but their story lives on in his journals. ... Read more

    Reviews (10)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Scott?s was the greater achievement
    About halfway through this diary account of the Terra Nova expedition, it becomes clear why Amundsen made it first to the pole ... and why Scott's was the greater achievement. The Norwegians focused completely on getting to the pole and back: no fuss, no elaboration, no scientific spin-offs. Amundsen cared not a whit about paleobotany, the discovery of a new parasite in fish livers or pony psychology. (More to the point, Amundsen kept to dogs.) Scott took an interest in everything, and he was willing to experiment. The diaries brim with accounts of sledging diets, weather balloons, penguin dissections, ice crystal formation, geologic strata and killer whales. He writes of what it is like to be without the sun for four months, of feelings stirred by the aurora australis, and of the colors of ice and sea and sky. He describes camp life and daily routines and the antics of ponies and dogs. And, knowing he has failed in his goal, he speaks movingly of his obligations to his country ... and to science. Among the items dragged to their final camp by three exhausted, half-frozen dying men were 35 pounds of fossils - fossils which would help rewrite geologic history.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Flawed -- But buy it anyway
    It's really too bad that "Scotts Last Expedition" was heavily edited by Sir J.M. Barrie, the talented author of Peter Pan. We'll never get to read Scott's real diary, which, I suspect, is a good deal more forthcoming on his feelings about Lt. Teddy Evans (his No. 2), Cecil Mears (his dog driver), and perhaps his own flawed self.

    Still, "Scott's Last Expedition" belongs in every collection on Antarctic exploration, regardless of whether you feel Scott is a hero or a buffoon. An original copy from the 1920s will set you back $300 or more, so this paperback reprint for $10 or so from Amazon isn't a bad deal at all. True, it doesn't look or smell the same, but it still has all of that great source material on diet, clothing, equipment and the officers and crew.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Dress warmly to read this one
    While the story is known to most armchair explorers, nothing beats the saga right from the horse's mouth. Yes, the journal does drag in places, but so do long days of waiting in the Antarctic. It makes us impatient and edgy, wondering if the storms will ever end or what equipment will break next. Knowing the climax detracts nothing from how they got there--or didn't. This and Shackleton's own story really have to be read if one enjoys this kind of tale. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0786703822
    Subjects:  1. (1910-1913)    2. Adventurers & Explorers    3. Antarctica    4. Biography/Autobiography    5. British Antarctic ("Terra Nova") Expedition    6. British Antarctic ('Terra Nova    7. Discovery And Exploration (General)    8. Discovery and exploration    9. Expeditions & Discoveries    10. History - General History    11. Polar Regions    12. Scientific Expeditions    13. South Pole   


    The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen
    by Howard Carter, Howard, Carter, A. C. Mace
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 June, 1977)
    list price: $11.95 -- our price: $8.96
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    Reviews (9)

    5-0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books
    I have a beloved hard copy that I've owned since sophomore year of high school when I learned about Howard Carter and Tutankhamen in A.P. History class. I was hooked and had to learn more. I've read that the first edition was actually two volumes but I haven't ever come across any copies yet.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
    If you love Epyptology, you'll love this book. Written like a diary, it will keep you on the edge of your seat, waiting for what's around the corner. A must read!

    5-0 out of 5 stars truely amazing!
    3 years ago my parents took me on holiday to Egypt, which I was very angry about at first because its was'nt a 'proper holiday' (too much education involved). Now I look back on it as the most inspirational 2 weeks of my life. This book compliments the travels perfectly. The book really shows how determined Howard Carter was to discovering Tut's tomb, and how close he got to never finding it at all. The book documents one of the greatest discoverys in the past century and will make you want to visit the tomb. Please read this book!! ... Read more

    Isbn: 0486235009
    Sales Rank: 74488
    Subjects:  1. Ancient - Egypt    2. Egypt    3. Excavations (Archaeology)    4. Excavations (Archeology)    5. General    6. History: World    7. King of Egypt    8. Sociology    9. Special Interest - Adventure    10. Tomb    11. Tutankhamen,    12. Tutankhamen   


    In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors
    by Doug Stanton
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (April, 2001)
    list price: $25.00 -- our price: $16.50
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    Editorial Review

    On July 26, 1945, the heavy cruiser Indianapolis steamed into port at the Pacific island of Tinian, carrying a cargo that would end World War II: the uranium that would be dropped on Hiroshima just three weeks later. Having delivered its load without incident, Indianapolis moved on toward the Philippines to join the great armada moving in on Japan. Though intelligence reports assured Captain Charles McVay that the route from Guam to Leyte was safe, there were Japanese submarines active in the area. On the night of July 29, having detected with sonar the clinking of dishes aboard the Indianapolis from a distance of more than a dozen miles, the submarine I-58 sank the American ship, killing nearly 900 sailors in the explosion and its terrible aftermath.

    Captain McVay was quickly court-martialed for having failed to follow evasive maneuvers, "the first captain in the history of the U.S. Navy," Doug Stanton observes, "to be court-martialed subsequent to losing his ship in an act of war." Although the sailors under his command would insist that McVay had been scapegoated, and although I-58's commander testified before the court that "he would have sunk the Indianapolis no matter what course she was on," McVay was never able to clear his name. He committed suicide in 1968.

    Stanton captures the drama of these events in his vigorous narrative, which augments and updates Richard Newcomb's Abandon Ship!. Stanton observes that although McVay was exonerated by an act of Congress in 2000, the conviction still stands in Navy records. Stanton's book makes a powerful case for why that conviction should be overturned, and why the captain and crew of the Indianapolis deserve honor. --Gregory McNamee ... Read more

    Reviews (105)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Fantastic Book......A Must Read
    I am a relative beginner in the amount of books I have read to date on World War II, but the history and intrigue, not to mention the heroism and bravery of those involved fascinates me. Having had a great uncle who was an Anzac (whom I never met), and having visited "Hellfire Pass" on the Railway of Death in Northern Thailand on Anzac Day several years ago, my intense interest in all matters WW2 was born. This book obviously relates to an American experience, and I look forward to reading many more of them.

    I bought this book in an airport bookshop, and once I started it, I literally couldn't stop reading until I had finished it. Doug Stanton has really created a fine masterpiece here, his style is such that the reader can depict vivid images in the mind of the story as it is being told, particularly once the ship goes down, and the horrible fate of the surviving crew following this. It is both spine chilling and enlightening at the same time, allowing those of us who never experienced war to have some insight into just how much unimaginable suffering was experienced by the soldiers involved.

    Ultimately it is also a sad story in as much as after the ship was torpedoed and sunk, it took the time that it did before the allies realised that the ship was missing. This was due in part to the secrecy surrounding the ships primary mission. Had help arrived sooner, surely a great many more lives would have been saved.

    It is the stuff of legends, and does justice to the memory of those who were lost in this terrible tragedy. Their ability to complete their mission of delivering one of the two Atom bombs dropped on Japan was instrumental in bringing a more rapid end to the Pacific War and is therefor, I feel, an important piece of history to know.

    For readers young and old, with the slightest interest in WW2 history, this is certainly one of the most fascinating and well written books you are ever likely to read, and therefor a valuable edition to your collection. To the men of the USS Indi, I salute you. To readers who read my review, I strongly recommend this book to you, you will love it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great book
    Don't start this book on a night you need to sleep.It's a terrific job.There are certain things I would have liked more details on (eg how the planes on the Indianapolis worked, or precisely what the various flotation set-ups looked like) but in a book this length Stanton is probably right on in his choices.The book is moving, informative, and damn hard to put down.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Gripping, Shocking, Inspiring
    This story came to my attention when I was doing research on people left in open water, after the movie of the same name. Although sharks are a very small part of it, someone had mentioned this book and I picked it up.

    You will not be able to put it down. And that it is a true story, and so senseless, will further astound you. The writing is superb, there is never a lull in the action, and you genuinely care about these sailors and their fate. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0805066322
    Subjects:  1. History    2. History - Military / War    3. History: American    4. Indianapolis (Cruiser)    5. Military - Naval    6. Military - United States    7. Military - World War II    8. Naval History - World War II    9. Naval operations    10. Naval operations, American    11. Pacific Ocean    12. Shipwrecks    13. World War, 1939-1945    14. History / Military / Naval   


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