Thursday, May 1, 2008

The History 'Un-Fit' to Print

In Love With the History Our Teachers Never Told Us

French Huguenots murdered by Spanish Roman Catholics.

Much like the inability of it and other newspapers, notably the Washington [a]Post[ate], regarding Roman Catholic terrorist Guy Fawkes, who attempted to blow up the British Parliament in 1605, the New York Times fails to mention the religion and hence the religious motives of the Spanish murderers of French Protestants.

CUTTYHUNK ISLAND, Mass. — Tony Horwitz’s new book, “A Voyage Long and Strange,” is about the American history most Americans never learned, including the story of the short-lived, early-17th-century colony established on this windswept island eight miles west of Martha’s Vineyard.

The book starts with the Viking discovery of North America, dispels a number of myths about Columbus (a much lousier navigator than we were taught) and then traces the various Spanish and French explorations of America before turning to the English settlements at Jamestown and Plymouth.

That the Pilgrims were very tardy latecomers is one of the themes of “A Voyage Long and Strange,” just published by Macmillan. Another is that much of what we think of as heroic exploration was bumbling and misguided. And a third is that large chunks of our past are preserved these days less by scholars than by passionate amateurs. Who knew, for example, that some evangelicals in Jacksonville, Fla., were keeping alive the memory of the French Huguenots who settled there and were massacred by the Spanish?

The author Tony Horwitz on windswept Cuttyhunk Island
(photo and caption from The New York Times)

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