As Joseph “coop” Cooper quotes in Interstellar ‘It’s like we’ve forgotten who we are, Donald. Explorer, pioneers, not caretakers’
Nigel Cliff in his historical panoramic narration of Vasco da Gama’s voyages to India makes sure you were reminded who we were- Explorers.
Book #: 3
This book bring our attention to two of our first generation explorers, Vasco da Gama and Christopher Columbus. Christopher Columbus- that highly ambitious kid and Vasco da Gama- that planning leader. As you flip through the pages, you get a clear sense of why Vasco da Gama was regarded as a better explorer of the two. (Note: the protagonist of the book is Vasco da Gama, so you might be reading more positive notes about him than Columbus)
It was a tough read for me, given the names of people, locations, timeline that featured in the book but it was book of huge revelation for me. It starts from the time – so long ago- when the world was still figuring out and discussing the differences in the ideologies of Islam and Christianity. As the years passed by, the little was talked about the ideologies with increasing emphasis on who should take over the world. It is even more amazing to realize even after 15 centuries and ages of civilization, we are back at square one.
(IMO- of what I read) If William Darlymple offered us ‘full-meals’ of history, then Nigel Cliff serves you that ‘best exotic dessert’ you ever had in your life.
One interesting feature of this book is the way it was narrated. More often than not, history books were written with the sole purpose of putting the facts out right in the most chronological way possible. Nigel Cliff takes a step ahead, he links up two major pieces of history (however, interlinked they were, deserve a separate narration) and blends it up so much to give you a sense of why we are the way we are today.
The other feature which drags your attention is the language. Generally, only the conversations, dialogues, names and the set up would be adjusted to the period in which the story happens. Nigel Cliff does even better. He uses the early-English, medieval- English and Late 16th century- English even in narration. The root words were used from the continent in which the story happens.
Overall, it was a great reading experience. Recommended read.