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Awesome account of the pioneer Portuguese explorers. Impeccable research. The writing is captivating and I never was bored. I'm planning on reading other books by this author.
This is a joy because it's so well written and it also opens up a field of history which isn't much covered in the UK. The Portugese were stuck out on the atlantic coast of Iberia with very limited access to mediterranean trade so they were forced to hone their sailing and navigation skills voyaging south to Africa. Eventually this took them down to the freezing waters and mountainous storms of the south atlantic where they rounded the cape of good hope and found a route into the dazzlingly rich trading waters of the Indian ocean. The material about the voyages themselves is very good but if anything it's outshone by their adventures as they try to establish themselves in a wholly alien but very sophisticated culture covering South Asia, India, Goa, the east coast of Africa and beyond to Arabia. Think "Conquistador's versus Sinbad" and you're not far off. The cast of Portugese characters is brilliant because a large number of them come over as brilliant but unhinged psychopaths obsessed with personal glory, the acquisition of booty and (believe it or not) beard length. They also left enough personal correspondence that Crowley can paint believable charater portraits. He also acknowledges the awful impact that the Portugese had on the locals, who saw a relatively peaceful trading system thrown into uproar with the arrival of religious zealouts using next generation canon power to offset their small numbers. If you like this period of history I can't recommend this too highly. Personally, I listened to it as a double bill with Kirstin Downey's excellent "Isabella: Warrior Queen" which covers the same period in Spain and found it enhanced my appreciation of both books.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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Very well-written and researched. Almost exclusively told from the Portuguese perspective, but this is not supposed to be a well-balanced historical analysis - it's a story, so that's OK I suppose. Well narrated and engaging.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Incredible accounts during a bizarre time. Author seems oddly admiring of Portugese activities though cruel.
A book I will remember for the rest of my life! Roger Crowley writes in a manner that places you in the years of discovery. Using the diverse landscape of the time with a zest of expression, every chapter delivers a more compelling adventure that will have you listening for hours on end. I loved everything about this book.