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A History Of Discovery

A History Of DiscoveryA Tufts history professor is garnering acclaim for his new book on the history of exploration.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [12.11.06] What inspired men like Christopher Columbus to leave safe harbor in Europe and sail westward toward a great unknown? What did their journeys spawn? Tufts' Felipe Fernández-Armesto addresses these questions about the exploration age in his new book, "Pathfinders: a Global History of Exploration.” The New York Times calls the 432-page historical account "brilliant and readable."

Pathfinders'''Pathfinders' is an illuminating and, at times, stirring examination of the divergence and convergence of cultures, a rich study of humankind's restless spirit," reported the Times. "As intimate as Alexander the Great's deathbed wish and as vast as human migration, this book explains who we are as much as what we have done."

Fernández-Armesto is the Prince of Asturias Professor of History at Tufts and the author of several books on colonial history and exploration.

"Few scholars are as qualified as Fernández-Armesto to write a history of exploration," according to the Times. "He has the breadth of knowledge and depth of understanding necessary to do justice to so formidable a topic."

In the book, he argues that most explorers were driven by a desire for power and primacy, but their endeavors resulted in the conception of the world as a whole and the establishment of the interwoven cultures we witness today.

"It's a huge story, and Mr. Fernández-Armesto tells it with gusto and panache," wrote The Wall StreetJournal, which called the book an "impressive, world-girdling history of exploration."

In "Pathfinders," the Tufts historian explains Western exploration in a global context, comparing European ambitions to those in the East.

"Here, as elsewhere, Mr. Fernández-Armesto is intent on puncturing the triumphalism of the West, suggesting that the Eastern countries, content with a range of goods and supplied by sufficient trade routes, simply had no interest in the field, giving over the world to European also-rans," the Journal wrote.

Another theme in "Pathfinders" is how the age of exploration has given way to a culture of globalization and convergence.

"Fernández-Armesto's multicultural, pan-global perspective and his opinionated style give his book a fresh force," according to the Journal.

Publishers Weekly hailed the book for ably tackling a topic of such substantial scope.

"The Tufts historian deftly manages the near-impossible task of a comprehensive account of world exploration from the dawn of humankind while maintaining an interesting tone throughout," according to the trade publication. "This volume truly covers everything the title claims, resulting in a rich history of our world."

Next year, Fernandez-Armesto will publish a book entitled "Amerigo: The Man who Gave His Name To America," about the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. Earlier this year, he published a comprehensive world history textbook entitled "The World: A History."

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