Sunday, July 12, 2009

Books: The Circumnavigators

With this summer's plan to read books outside my normal lists, I've decided to occasionally post some thoughts about what I'm reading as well. Per the advice of the excellent Justine Larbalestier, I'll only be writing the nice things--there's just no upside in ripping something I didn't happen to enjoy.

On that note, the first major book I've tackled was The Circumnavigators by Derek Wilson. As a pure history book--not even historical fiction--I probably never would have picked this up. While my appreciation of history has been growing, it's still difficult to locate books that aren't too dry and academic.

My friend Nathan put me onto The Circumnavigators, though, and this is definitely not one of those history books. The tales of how humanity learned to sail around the globe are varied and engaging. The book is packed with interesting details about the passages around the world. For instance, I never knew that if Magellan hadn't been killed in the South Pacific, they would likely never have continued on westward to complete the first circuit of the globe. Nor would I have believed a story in which crews of hundreds set off, but as few as seventeen men returned. However all of these things actually happened, and Wilson captures them in stunning detail.

If you have any interest in history or enjoy a good maritime tale, I'd definitely recommend The Circumnavigators.

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