CAP­TAIN’S BOOK­SHELF

Passage Maker - - @ Rest -

Jonathan Cooper‘ s ob­ses­sion with his­tory/trav­el­ogue au­thor, Tony Horwitz, grows deeper. A Voy­age Long and Strange is Horwitz’s lat­est.

One of my all-time fa­vorite non­fic­tion au­thors, Tony Horwitz, has found a nov­el­ist’s niche by writ­ing in­sight­ful and hu­mor­ous trav­el­ogue his­to­ries. It’s not all about hu­mor—Horwitz is no Dave Barry, nor is he try­ing to be. In­stead, Horwitz re­counts his per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences trav­el­ing to lands far and near while meet­ing and in­ter­view­ing lo­cal peo­ple, which he then folds neatly into his­tor­i­cal con­text.

His ca­reer took off af­ter win­ning both an Aron­son Award and a Pulitzer Prize for his re­port­ing while at The Wall Street Jour­nal.

Later, as a for­eign correspondent at The New Yorker, Horwitz be­gan to re­fine his par­tic­u­lar style and voice. An early work that sprang from his time liv­ing in north­ern Africa, Bagh­dad With­out a Map is a se­ries of mov­ing and of­ten sober­ing es­says about life in the Mid­dle East and the mod­ern his­tory of the region. In Blue Lat­i­tudes, Horwitz shows a keen sense of hu­mor and true fas­ci­na­tion with his sub­ject, Cap­tain Cook, as he re­traces some of the ex­plorer’s most sig­nif­i­cant jour­neys. A Voy­age Long and Strange fol­lows a sim­i­lar for­mula, only this time Horwitz ded­i­cates his ef­forts to ex­plor­ing the his­tory of the Eastern Se­aboard, from Canada to the U.S. and south to the Caribbean. He ad­mits to the reader that there was a gap in his own un­der­stand­ing of Amer­i­can his­tory: He had no idea what hap­pened dur­ing the 128 years that elapsed be­tween when Columbus ar­rived in the Caribbean in 1492 and when the Mayflower landed in 1620. So he re­searched, trav­eled, and wrote about it in his own in­trepid and en­ter­tain­ing way. With Horwitz at the helm, un­der­stand­ing his­tory is fun again.

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