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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hakluyts Masterpiece -Abridged Version, 20 Mar 2011
By 
Tommy Dooley (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Voyages and Discoveries (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Richard Hakluyt (pronounced Hacket') compiled the original version of this book over virtually his lifetime and meant it to be a lot more than a mere entertaining read. `The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation', was meant to be an aid for both navigation and trade. Hakluyt was an interesting man too, educated at Christ Church, Oxford he took holy orders and started his love of travel writing -not the Rough Guide type of today, but great stories of derring do and foreign lands with weird, smelly foreigners who sometimes had `horrible ears'. He had his first book published in 1582 when he was about thirty years old. He went on to be called a `Renaissance diplomat, scholar and part time spy'.

But enough of him, back to the book, this is an edited version of the real thing by Jack Beeching and at over 400 tightly printed pages it packs many a punch. What makes it so interesting is that all of the many stories in the book are firsthand accounts of the travails of the participants. Hakluyt went out of his way to track them down or get written testimony and also tried to elicit as much information as possible on customs, geography and ease of travel so that the next time any one went there it would be a tad easier. England was playing catch up on the International trade front and so needed all the help it could get.

The tales often feature people from history who you will be aware of like Sir Francis Drake and Thomas Cavendish, but the breadth is amazing from Cathay to South America. There are tales of shipwreck, slavery, religious persecution, and a `request to be advised in the killing of the whale', so not one for animal lovers this. The language is of the Tudor period, but Beeching has done his best to make this easily accessible in terms of updating where necessary, but still leaves enough in to make anyone interested in language and etymology fully hooked.

A note on Beeching who is to be applauded for this remarkable book, he is an author in his own right and his book `The Chinese Opium Wars'The Chinese Opium Wars (Harvest Book; Hb 350) is an absolute classic - one of the best history books I have ever read and he is the main reason why I bought this in the first place. An essential read for anyone interested in history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Voyages many, discoveries few, 14 May 2012
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This review is from: Voyages and Discoveries (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
England was a late starter on the global stage. Hakluyt, a forward-thinking and intelligent chap, compiled this work for several reasons, but one was evidently to get the English out there. The book consists of accounts by sailors, soldiers, and (primarily) traders concerning their voyages, their adventures, and the produce they sold or found for sale. It is notable that few of the accounts deal with discovery per se; one that sailed during the reign of Edward VI claimed to have "discovered" Russia, which is true only in that the English were largely unaware of Russia before the voyage. Other than this, the voyages are piratical or based in trade rather than exploration. Portugal and Spain had done most of the work beforehand, the former with genius world conquerors and explorers like Vasco da Gama, Afonso de Albuquerque, and Francisco de Almeida, and the latter with even more famous conquerors - Cortes, Pizarro, Legaspi. In most of the accounts in Hakluyt's book, Spain is on top, unwilling to relinquish any scrap of land or produce to the English Luterianos.

Hakluyt begins with some early medieval accounts, possibly in an attempt to prove the pedigree of English exploration. There are a few of these before we get to accounts of 16th century travellers voyaging from England to Russia, the Moluccas (Maluku), Brazil, California (possibly), Pegu (in Burma), and many other places in between. Francis Drake is here, of course, as is Cavendish. Frobisher's voyages to discover a northwest passage are here. But there are other, less famous, adventures. The account of Miles Philips should be made into a movie for all the travails encountered - storm at sea in the West Indies, massacre by Spaniards, slavery in Mexico, trial by Inquisition, escape assisted by native Mexicans, another journey at sea after more than a dozen years, and much more. Others' trips to Persia and Central Asia are fraught with robbers and assaults by cavalry archers, and rest on the acquiescence of local tyrannical potentates.

Besides the adventures we get bits of ethnographic detail from around the world. Part of Hakluyt's purpose was a documentation of the world, not only for reasons of trade, religion, and conquest, but also as an academic exercise, to discover what exists on the earth, to pursue knowledge for its own ends. This, combined with the thrilling aspect of many of the accounts, makes the book entertaining and interesting no matter how you view the legacy of these men who, after all, participated in the slave trade.

This abridged collection ought to be more than sufficient for most people. It's an incredibly good read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Voyages-a legendary text and a good read!, 11 Aug 2005
By 
Michael J. Brett "Michael Brett" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Voyages and Discoveries (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
This was a much-loved book for 17th Century people, and like Shakespeare a deservedly big PR success for the Tudors, dealing with the voyages of famous English seafarers. Hakluyt is supposed to have used first-hand accounts to write this account of 16th Century voyages of exploration, playing up the heroism and playing down the baser motives of acquiring gold and slaves. Richard Hakluyt was born near London about 1552 and from boyhood was fascinated with geography. He was ordained and began writing about voyages of exploration at the age of thirty. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the colonization of America is shown in a Westminster stained glass window presenting a copy of his 'Discourse of Western Planting' to Queen Elizabeth 1 in October 1584. He wrote his book of Voyages during a five year term of office as chaplain to the English Ambassador in Paris. The Queen rewarded him with a canonry in Bristol Cathedral. There is only one remaining copy of that book in the New York Public Library. Hakluyts Voyages was a profound stimulus to the early explorers of America. He died in 1616 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Westminster Abbey.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unputdownable, 7 May 2014
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I love this book. Some fascinating stories from original explorations. The account of Drakes circumnavigation is spellbinding as is the brit sailor captive of spain for 16 years. Great to dip into (the stories are relatively short) or treat as unputdownable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Present, 12 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Voyages and Discoveries (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Given as a present .a pick up and put down book .Full of interesting facts and info . A good read long winter days .
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Voyages and Discoveries (Penguin Classics)
Voyages and Discoveries (Penguin Classics) by Richard Hakluyt (Paperback - 28 Oct 1982)
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