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Beyond the Myth of Magellan

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto



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01 April 2022
For centuries, Ferdinand Magellan has been celebrated as a hero: a noble adventurer who circumnavigated the globe in an extraordinary feat of human bravery; a paragon of daring and chivalry.

Now historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto draws on extensive and meticulous research to conduct a dazzling investigation into Magellan's life, his character and his ill-fated voyage. He reveals that Magellan did not attempt - much less accomplish - a journey around the globe, and that in his own lifetime, the explorer was abhorred as a traitor, reviled as a tyrant and dismissed as a failure.

Fernandez-Armesto probes the passions and tensions that drove Magellan to adventure and drew him to disaster: the pride that became arrogance, audacity that became recklessness, determination that became ruthlessness, romanticism that became irresponsibility, and superficial piety that became, in adversity, irrational exaltation. And as the real Magellan emerges, so too do his true ambitions, focused less on circumnavigating the world or cornering the global spice market than on exploiting Filipino gold.

Offering up a stranger, darker and even more compelling narrative than the fictional version that has been glorified for half a millennium, Straits untangles the myths that made Magellan a hero.
 Straits: Beyond the Myth of Magellan

Imprint:   Bloomsbury
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm, 
Weight:   568g
ISBN:   9781526632074
ISBN 10:   1526632071
Pages:   384
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto's awards for work in maritime and imperial history include the World History Association Book Prize, Spain's Premio Nacional de Investigacion Geogafica, the Caird Medal and the John Carter Brown Gold Medal. He is a Vice-president of the Hakluyt Society. In 2016 the King of Spain recognised his services to education and the arts with the award of the Gran Cruz de la Orden de Alfonso el Sabio. His previous publications include the critically acclaimed Out of Our Minds, A Foot in the River, 1492, Millennium, Pathfinders and Food: A History. He occupies the William P. Reynolds Chair at the University of Notre Dame, where he is a professor of history and, concurrently, of classics and of the history and philosophy of science.

Reviews for Straits: Beyond the Myth of Magellan

This excellent book is a model of elegant argument and authoritative research ... If this account of Magellan's voyage sounds like a history of failure, not success, that is because it was just that. The real triumph is that of Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, who has exposed the fallacies of five hundred years of literature about Magellan. * David Abulafia, Literary Review * Rigorous, deft and entertaining ... a sparkling read -- Horatio Clare * The Spectator * The ride is thrilling ... a work of serious scholarship -- Paul Lay * Sunday Telegraph * ...a brilliant display of virtuosity ... a masterfully persuasive book -- Matthew Restall * Times Literary Supplement * The enormously confident Fernandez-Armesto tells this story with gusto, rendering Magellan much more interesting because of his flaws than the cardboard hero we've been sold ... [He] is endearingly contemptuous of academic convention, inventing dialogue where appropriate and taking the reader down blind alleys simply because they're picturesque. He's not afraid of being funny, weaving into his analysis quirky remarks that reveal his mischievous side. -- Gerard DeGroot * The Times * This is the story of a voyage that was in reality one of the most disastrous in the history of overseas exploration but which has now become one of its greatest triumphs - and of a man who failed at almost everything he set out to do and yet became one of the great heroes of modernity. Scintillating and compelling, and told with all of Felipe Fernandez-Armesto's habitual verve and wit, it is at the same time a sobering insight into how we have come to conceive our own increasingly globalized world -- Anthony Pagden, author of 'Worlds at War' Straits is a triumph of biographical writing. With his characteristic vigor and panache, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto circumnavigates Magellan's life and times with a clearer object in mind and far greater success than ever imagined for this subject. He shows us not only the skills and bravado but also the intrigues, the self-deception, and even the insanity that animated Magellan's quest -- Lincoln Paine, author of 'The Sea and Civilization' By pulling apart the usually willfully misread sources in their original languages with a detective's eye for contradiction and inconsistency, Straits unravels a yarn of unmitigated failure punctuated by hubris, meanness, and crafty power grabs. The Ferdinand Magellan who emerges from these freshly disinterred sources is no hero but rather a ruthless gentleman of fortune who died to tell the tale -- Kris Lane, author of 'Potosi'

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