Discovery: The Quest for the Great South Land

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9780312217563: Discovery: The Quest for the Great South Land
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Six centuries before the birth of Christ, people began to imagine an immense land at the bottom of the world, a land of marvels, of enormous wealth and mystery. Discovery is the story of the quest which compelled men in small ships to traverse unknown seas, endure extraordinary hardships, and slowly unveil the sixth continent. The story begins among Greek philosophers on the shores of the Mediterranean. It ends two millennia later in the vast Southern Ocean. Lucidly and concisely, Miriam Estensen tells an absorbing tale of mapmakers and lonely caravels, Spanish hidalgos and Dutch merchants, remote coasts and castaways, buccaneers and dreamers. At the heart of Discovery is the power of a myth and the adventures and sacrifices of those who pursued it, for this is the story of how an imagined place was made real, how the speculations of visionaries became Terra Incognita and then Australia.

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About the Author:

Miriam Estensen was born in Chicago but has spent much of her life travelling, to many of the places which feature in Discovery. She was raised in Europe--mostly Spain and Sweden--and in the Phillipines. After completing her education in California she lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Today she lives with her husband, a retired sea captain, on the Gold Coast in Australia. She is writing a biography of another great traveller, Matthew Flinders.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A map of the social, historical, and often mythical impulses that led the Western world on a search for the great Southern Continentand Australia's distilling of society's most fantastic dreams and nightmares. The title of this debut volume is mis leading, since Estensen's account stops at James Cook's famous 1755 circumnavigation and never gets further inland than the shore, leaving the discovery of the interior to another volume. However, her research is truly impressive regarding the staggering number of voyages European nations undertook in the hopes of finding a rich southern continent. Starting from Pythagoras' first supposition that, on a spherical earth, a massive southern continent must balance the northern half, Estensen details with almo st tiresome inclusiveness exactly how many attempts were made to find it and by whom, and with what degree of disaster they met. When even the best ships were like Wiffle balls on the open ocean, when longitude had not yet been invented, and when most cap tains measured speed and direction by dead reckoning, still, hundreds of ships set out to find either Java La Grande, as it was called, or a trade route around it. What is most striking is the incredible power of the myth, in spite of, and perhaps because of, the massive number of deaths it inspired. A good example is the infamous Batavia disaster, where shipwrecked passengers and crew turned to slaughtering one another mercilessly under an impromptu martial law. At one point, Estensen describes a trip as successful ``despite the usual deaths and crises,'' of which there were a shocking number. Only man's lust for new sources of precious metals, gems, and exotic agricultural products could explain such tenacity. Though a laundry list of voyages, Estensen' s meticulous account conveys the bravery and persistence, as well as cowardice and cruelty, of these early explorers. (8 pages color, 18 b&w illustrations) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780851777696: Discovery: The Quest for the Great South Land

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ISBN 10:  0851777694 ISBN 13:  9780851777696
Publisher: Conway Maritime Press Ltd, 1999
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9780312229689: Discovery: The Quest for the Great South Land

Palgra..., 2000
Softcover

9781864484977: Discovery: the quest for the great south land

Allen ..., 1998
Hardcover

9781865081397: Discovery: The Quest for the Great South Land

Allen ..., 1999
Softcover

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