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As the Explorers Saw It

by Bill Lawrence

Pub Date: July 22nd, 1991
ISBN: 1-55778-145-1

From Lawrence (Six Presidents, Two Many Wars, 1972, etc.): another Great Moments effort, derived from accounts by first explorers of North America, and in particular of the territory that became the US. Although starting with the Norse explorations late in the tenth century, the bulk of Lawrence's patchwork chronicle describes the better-known travels of the 16th and 17th centuries, finally skipping a hundred years to focus on Lewis and Clark's historic journey, which began in 1804. The discoveries of Cartier, Champlain, de Soto, Coronado, and others are dealt with in turn, with landings and significant events carefully noted. Natives receive considerable attention, and pristine forests and the wondrous creatures inhabiting them are also amply detailed, with the reader often invited to consider that these natural riches were subsequently squandered as exploration gave way to settlement and exploitation. The routes of those ventures into the unknown come complete with references to modern cities and interstate highways, so that Henry Hudson sails his Half Moon up the river bearing his name to a landfall in the vicinity of 42nd Street. Western adventures and journeys into the interior also receive attention, but the whole is such a hodgepodge of rehashed journal entries and attempts to relate to America today that only glimpses of the original fascinating experiences remain. Short on style and continuity; of interest only to those for whom history is attractive when eviscerated in general summaries.