DISCOVERY: Developing Views of the Earth from Ancient Times to the Voyages of Captain Cook by John Parker

DISCOVERY: Developing Views of the Earth from Ancient Times to the Voyages of Captain Cook

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KIRKUS REVIEW

For schoolchildren whose acquaintance with explorers is likely to begin with Columbus and end with Magellan, the real discovery here will be the extent of pre-Renaissance man's knowledge about his planet -- from the theoretical geography of the Greeks, the voyages of Norsemen and Arab traders, and, most suggestively, as expressed in the legendary travels of St. Brendan, Prester John and Sinbad the Sailor. The later voyages offer fewer surprises, but are placed in the perspective of their navigational goals -- Columbus, for example, used a variation of Toscanelli's chart in hopes of reaching Japan; a series of mathematical errors, such as failing to convert Arabic miles into Roman ones, accounted for his underestimation of the distance involved. Parker looks behind the few great men on center stage to follow the slow, non-linear process by which our geographical world view was pieced together. One can only regret that he offers no bibliography to guide the curiosity which these expanded horizons are sure to stimulate.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1972
Publisher: Scribners