- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial (4 Oct. 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0007198558
- ISBN-13: 978-0007198559
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 529,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Over the Edge of the World Paperback – 4 Oct 2010
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‘A superb real-life thriller.’ New York Times
‘The gripping story of a 60,000-mile ocean voyage…by turns sorrowful, violent, and promiscuous…’ Los Angeles Times
‘A vivid account of Magellan's starcrossed voyage.’ Kirkus Reviews
‘Illuminating the age of discovery, Bergreen writes this powerful tale of adventure with a strong presence and rich detail.’ Publishers’ Weekly
‘Mr. Bergreen delivers torture, suffering, starvation and bloody frays with almost loving zeal.’ Washington Times
‘Prodigious research, sure-footed prose and vivid descriptions make for a thoroughly satisfying account…it is all here in the wondrous detail, a first-rate historical page turner.’ New York Times Book Review
The astonishing tale of the first sea voyage to circumnavigate the entire globe. Magellan's dramatic maritime expedition in 1519 discovered the straits that enabled Europe to trade with the Eastern spice islands and changed the course of history. In an era of intense commercial rivalry between Spain and Portugal, Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese navigator sailed to explore the undiscovered parts of the world and claim them for the Spanish crown in one of the largest and best-equipped expeditions ever mounted in the Age of Discovery. Yet of the fleet of five vessels under his command, only Victoria was to return to Spain after three harrowing years, her captain murdered, more than two hundred of her sailors dead from scurvy, torture, execution and drowning, and a small, ravaged crew that survived to tell the extraordinarily dramatic story.What emerged was a tale of mutiny, of orgies on distant shores, of claims of cannibalism, of death and disease, of missionary zeal and base cruelty, and of incredible discoveries: the earth was indeed round, the Americas were not part of India, the earth was covered mainly by oceans, and a new route that allowed Europe access to the fantastic wealth of the Eastern spice islands. Indeed, despite the devastating loss of life and vessels, the Victoria sailed back laden with enough cloves and other spices for the expedition to be considered a remarkable financial success. Accomplished despite the fact that European mariners were exploring a world that was unmapped and misunderstood, where superstition held sway and there were real fears that you could literally sail over the edge of the world, that sea monsters lurked in the briny depths, or that if you passed the equator, the ocean would boil and scald you to death, this was a truly spectacular achievement. The shockingly explicit diaries of Antonio Pigafetta reveal much of the story.This is a many-layered book -- a voyage into history, a tour of the world as it was emerging from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance, an anthropological account of exotic tribes and a chronicle of a desperate grab for political and commercial power. It is also a gripping adventure story, compelling and full of suspense and drama. See all Product description
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Painstakingly researched from original resources, and related in an erudite yet thoroughly entertaining manner, this is a a wonderful book, which I may well read again
There is no attempt to portray the achievement as heroic, astounding though it was. This is an account of hardship, disease, torture, murder, betrayal, but it is also a vivid tale of discovery and observation of previously unknown places, people and things. Framing it all, and giving the narrative a shape that might translate to a novel, is the rivalry between Spain and Portugal for commercial domination of the oceans.
Even as the end is almost within reach, there is no certainty of success for the single remaining ship of the five that set out. Berggreen writes, "... the weather continued to batter the boat by night too, so there was no rest for the crew, nor safe harbour, nor cooking fire, nor soft dry blanket, nor guarantee that their misery would end any time soon ... And so they tried again and again, fleeing for their lives, hoping to cheat death just one more time."
This is history as thriller. Simply magnificent.
Magellan a Portuguese national somehow gets the king of Spain to fund his ambitious expedition to find a route to the `Spice Islands' of the Moluccas. Leaving Spain in 1519 with a fleet of five ships and two hundred and sixty men the expedition returns three years later in one ship with eighteen souls. During an amazing but terrifying sixty thousand mile odyssey there does not seem to be a calamity that the `Moluccas expedition' did not encounter. They braved mutinies, storms, scurvy, drownings, torture, executions, wars, desertions, murders and other endless perils. Bergmen portrays each dangerous scenario accurately and with consumate detail.
Apart from the dangers there are also the amazing experiences beheld of men encountering new peoples, customs, lands, flora and fauna. There are accounts of orgies with dusky Pacific Rim maidens as well as sections devoted to foreign kings and chieftains and their practices. All topics are amply described and are utterly fascinating...I found the Philippine custom of `Pelanging' very interesting but hope it does not get a modern resurgence (read about it or Google it).
Ultimately what was the journey for...well it was to find a new route to the Spice Islands. To pioneer a new trading route to bring back the then amazingly expensive spices such as cloves, cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg. A sailor bringing back a small satchel of such spices in those days would enrich himself to the extent that he could purchase the ship that he journeyed on during the expedition. Return with spices the expedition survivors did, only one ship's worth but that resulted in nearly a million dollars worth of cargo ...without adding half a millennium of inflation!
All of this is well told by the author in a superbly researched book that is equally well written with great descriptive detail. It also abounds with lateral information such as a fascinating description of 14th century Pacific Chinese treasure fleets and other like maritime information along with linkages to other great explorers of the age. The book is such an easy read you tend to forget the amount of information you have got from it.
The correct summation of this book is that it is about a sea journey....a journey that was over a dozen times longer than Columbus's, a journey of an expedition that discovered the world and changed the course of history.....quite simply the most important sea voyage in maritime history.
This book writes about the experiences of the crew of the armada which left spain to find a passage to the spice islands by sailing west, to get to the east by going west!
During their voyage they are tested by storms, scury, canibals, cutlesses, mutines, marorderers, politics, religion, sex and more. They ventured to places never before seen by Europeans in what must have been one of the most amazing voyages ever!
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