Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Admiral of the Ocean Sea - Winner, Biography, 1943

Admiral of the Ocean Sea
By: Samuel Eliot Morison
Little, Brown, and Company, 1942

In Admiral of the Ocean Sea, Morison gives a comprehensive biography of the life of Christopher Columbus. Apparently, Morison (who was a prolific author of the time and would win the Pulitzer again in 1960) was well known for the authority and readability of this books. I would emphasize the authority over the readability for this book.

Morison was a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy and was, therefore, probably so familiar with maritime history that I believe it would have been impossible for him to completely bring it down to layman's terms. I was able to follow generally, but was often lost in his descriptions of boat and ringings and winds and such. There were also a large number of references to names and places that I was unfamiliar with. To be fair, I did listen to a recording of this book and think that was a big source of the problems I had in following along. It would have helped greatly to have a map in front of me.

Morison did an excellent job of describing what are commonly thought to be Columbus's routes of travel. To research for the book he chartered a boat and actually sailed these routes himself. Interestingly, there is an overlay of the narrative of this trip on top of the story of Columbus's life. I would recommend this book to any reader interested in the history of explorers but would definitely suggest reading a physical copy instead of listening to the audio!

1 comment:

Rebecca Reid said...

I'm amazed there is an audiobook of this book only because it seems so old. But I'm glad it was interesting. Too bad it was harder to get through. Sometimes nonfiction audio works for me; other times I really need the physical book!