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Item #: PL70-326
DISCOVERY: THE QUEST FOR THE GREAT SOUTH LAND Miriam Estensen 1999 1st US ed Hardcover DJ New
By Estensen, Miriam
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Detailed Product Description
New York, St. Martins, 1999, 1st US edition. 286 pp, color illustrations. New hardcover with dust jacket.

Estensen delivers a memorable book that seamlessly melds history, geopolitics, adventure, travel and natural history to tell of civilization's imaginative and physical forays into the mapmakers' southern Terra Incognita.
 
For centuries, explorers and kings believed in a Great South Land, a fabled continent full of gold that reputedly encircled the lower reaches of the Southern Hemisphere and joined Africa's tip. Estensen tells the stirring story of how this myth propelled Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Arab and English seafarers vying for maritime supremacy and led to the discovery of Australia and Antarctica. Some elements of the story are well known: Portuguese explorers rounding Africa and reaching India; the forging of a mercantile empire from Goa to Indonesia by Afonso de Albuquerque, Portuguese governor of India; Magellan's 1519-1522 voyage around the world for Spain; Dutch navigator Abel Tasman's wide-arced circumnavigation of Australia in 1642; and, finally, Englishman James Cook's expedition to Tahiti in 1768-1770, during which he charted Australia's east coast.
 
Chicago-born Estensen, who lives in Australia, draws on archival research and archaeological finds in her zestful account of this historic quest, a remarkable tale of derring-do, incredible blunders, persistence, greed, mutiny and devotion to a mirage. Particularly exciting passages concern the medieval underground trade in precious maps and stolen information. Estensen's seaworthy narrative is intriguingly illustrated with maps, engravings, paintings and woodcuts.

Estensen, who lives in Australia, takes the reader on a journey of 2000 years, beginning with a description of the geology and life of the last unknown continent. Maps from Renaissance Europe showed Terra Australis the unknown land to the south in many different configurations, but all suggested a continent waiting to be explored.
 
The Portuguese led the way with Prince Henry the Navigator, followed closely by Columbus, Magellan, and other Spanish explorers. Contacts from Asia in the form of Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, and possibly Arab traders are explored in an attempt to determine who was the first to reach Australia. The Dutch and English then entered the search, leading to eventual English settlement. This compelling history of the efforts of men from different nations with differing motivations is told with exacting detail that illuminates exploration in the days of sail. Comprehensive notes and a detailed bibliography are evidence of Estensen's extensive research.

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