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Half Moon : Henry Hudson and the Voyage that Redrew the Map of the New World
A bold new account of explorer Henry Hudson and the discovery that changed the course of history.
The year 2009 marks the four-hundredth anniversary of Henry Hudson's discovery of the majestic river that bears his name. Just in time for this milestone, Douglas Hunter, sailor, scholar, and storyteller, has written the first book-length history of the 1609 adventure that put New York on the map.
Hudson was commissioned by the mighty Dutch East India Company to find a northeastern passage over Russia to the lucrative ports of China. But the inscrutable Hudson, defying his orders, turned his ship around and instead headed west--far west--to the largely unexplored coastline between Spanish Florida and the Grand Banks.
Once there, Hudson began a seemingly aimless cruise--perhaps to conduct an espionage mission for his native England--but eventually dropped anchor off Coney Island. Hudson and his crew were the first Europeans to visit New York in more than eighty years, and soon went off the map into unexplored waters.
Hudson's discoveries reshaped the history of the new world, and laid the foundation for New York to become a global capital. Hunter has shed new light on this rogue voyage with unprecedented research. Painstakingly reconstructing the course of the Half Moon from logbooks and diaries, Hunter offers an entirely new timeline of Hudson's passage based on innovative forensic navigation, as well as original insights into his motivations.
Half Moon offers a rich narrative of adventure and exploration, filled with international intrigue, backstage business drama, and Hudson's own unstoppable urge todiscover. This brisk tale re-creates the espionage, economics, and politics that drove men to the edge of the known world and beyond.
Although not the first mariner to explore North America, Henry Hudson (1565-1611) left a powerful legacy, vividly described in this richly detailed biography 400 years after his journey up what became the Hudson River. Canadian historian Hunter (God's Mercies: Rivalry, Betrayal, and the Dream of Discovery) reminds readers that 16th- and 17th-century European entrepreneurs remained obsessed with finding a shortcut to Asia. An experienced English seaman, Hudson was hired by the Dutch East India Company in 1609 to sail east above Russia. Having already failed at that route, Hudson departed with other ideas. He quickly found his way blocked by ice, but instead of returning to Holland sailed west across the Atlantic, eventually stopping near Manhattan and sailing up his eponymous river as far as present-day Albany. Hunter has clearly immersed himself in the period, producing a meticulous account of Hudson's three months in the New World. Readers may prefer to skim precise descriptions of his navigational difficulties, but few will resist the colorful personal conflicts, tortuous politics and alternately friendly and vicious encounters between Europeans and Native Americans. Photos. (Sept.)
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August 30, 2009
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