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Publisher's Summary

On a chance visit to Plymouth Rock, Tony Horwitz makes an unsettling discovery. A history buff since early childhood, expensively educated at university - a history major, no less! - he's reached middle age with a third-grader's grasp of early America. In fact, he's mislaid more than a century of American history, the period separating Columbus' landing in 1492 from the arrival of English colonists at Jamestown in 16-oh-something. Did nothing happen in between?
©2008 Tony Horwitz (P)2008 Books on Tape
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Critic Reviews

"Horwitz writes in a breezy, engaging style, so this combination of popular history and travelogue will be ideal for general readers." ( Booklist)
"Funny and lively...popular history of the most accessible sort. The stories [Horwitz] tells are full of vivid characters and wild detail." ( The New York Times Book Review)
"Like travel writer Bill Bryson, Horwitz has a penchant for meeting colorful characters and getting himself into bizarre situations." ( The Christian Science Monitor)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
1 out of 5 stars
By Sara on 10-25-15

Just Not For Me

If you have read any history beyond the standard middle school, high school and even college stuff much of this book is a rehash. If you are like me and have read about this time period extensively you may find yourself "hairsplitting" about Horowitz's take on some of the stories. The author's personal experiences with site visits had the potential to be funny--but to me they missed the mark. Overall, I thought these trips went on a bit too long and fell flat. In the end I was either bored or irritated by the whole experience. Disappointing for me--but worth a try if you like Tony Horwitz's style of humor and are up for a history "review". Other reviewers here on audible seem to love it.

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28 of 31 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Blake on 05-20-13

Funny, informative, insightful, entertaining.

Determined to learn more about early America than his education in history provided him, Tony Horwitz set out to research the written record, and travel to all of these historic places, collecting enough information along the way to write this book. But this is not a dry, dense, "just the facts, ma'am" type of history book. Most of the story lies in the people who Horwitz visits in his travels. From Hispañiola to New Mexico, to Florida, Virginia and finally back to Plymouth Rock, He finds local people who are well qualified to have opinions about the local history. The opinions of these people, combined with the author's observations and the written record, serve to weave a story not just about early America, but about the way that all histories are written. Horwitz has a great ability to find the humor and silliness in all of this, and the narrator, John H Mayor, does a splendid job of bringing that across. I found myself smiling, chuckling, and sometimes even laughing out loud at the absurdity of it all. Meanwhile, my mind was enriched with accounts of tales that should be common knowledge, but are not the stories that the winners of American history passed on, so therefore are little known. It was one of those books that I got so involved in, I forgot about the rest of the world until it was over. Highly reccomended.

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6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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