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Fatal Journey

An acclaimed historian tells the tale of Henry Hudson's doomed final voyage in search of sea passage across the New World. In 1610, the English mariner Henry Hudson set off on a journey to find the Northwest Passage, the famed water route that all Europeans hoped would speed the time of travel to East Asia. But Hudson's search for the Northwest Passage did not go well. Taking a far northerly route past Iceland, Hudson and his crew on the ship Discovery passed through fields of dangerous icebergs as they rounded the northern tip of Labrador. Braving the harsh arctic climate, the Discovery entered what would eventually become known as Hudson Bay. By winter, the ship was trapped in ice near the shores of James Bay. Provisions grew scarce, tensions among crew-members flared, and when the ice began to thaw the following June, members of his crew mutinied. They forced Hudson, his teenage son, and seven other men onto a shallow-bottomed boat and pushed them away. Historian Peter C. Mancall's "Fatal Journey" is the first book to tell the full story of Hudson and the other 23 men who set sail from London in April 1610. Based on an extraordinary array of primary sources, including narratives from the expedition itself, testimony offered in two trials of the survivors, and indigenous sources from the Hudson Bay area, "Fatal Journey" teases out what the experience must have been like for the men on Discovery. An exhilarating narrative of exploration, desperation, and icebound tragedy, "Fatal Journey" vividly chronicles the undoing of a great explorer-not by an angry ocean, but at the hands of his own men.
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About the Author

Peter C. Mancall is Professor of History and Anthropology at the University of Southern California, as well as Director of the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute. He is the author of Hakluyt's Promise and At the Edge of Empire. He lives in Los Angeles.


In April 1610, Henry Hudson set sail on the Discovery with a crew of 22 (including his 17-year-old son) on his fourth expedition in search of a shorter route to the Far East. USC historian Mancall (Hakluyt's Promise) vividly recreates the eager anticipation of the voyage, the lust for conquest and for spices, the voyage's risks and the joy and terrors that Hudson and his crew faced. But as winter approached, rather than return to England, Hudson set anchor in the bay named for him. Stuck in ice for seven months, their provisions dwindling, the crew mutinied in the spring, forcing Hudson, his son and seven other sailors into a skiff left floating in the bay. When the mariners on the Discovery returned to England without Hudson, they were tried for murder but never convicted. As for Hudson and the rest, their remains were never found and their fate is the stuff of legend. As Mancall so eloquently points out, the resolute will that had served Hudson so well in reaching this summit of exploration also made him unwilling to abandon his goal and led to his demise. Illus., map. (June) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

When Henry Hudson discovered the river he named after himself in 1609, no one could have foreseen his controversial death about two years later. In this well-researched study, historian Mancall (Hakluyt's Promise) focuses on Hudson's next and final voyage and tries to unravel the mystery surrounding the mutiny of Hudson's crew in June 1611, which left Hudson, his son, and seven others adrift in James Bay. Leaving England in 1610 in search of the Northwest Passage, Hudson's Discovery sailed into what we now call Hudson Bay and was trapped in the ice for the long polar winter. Mancall describes Hudson as "a man of few words," as evidenced by the lack of known records detailing the crew's conditions and morale prior to the mutiny. Instead, Mancall fills in the gaps by relying on known sources, including crewman Abacuk Pricket's narrative, testimony from the survivors' murder trial, and accounts by later explorers. Verdict While this book does not solve the mystery of what happened to Hudson, it does offer general readers excellent insight into 17th-century maritime exploration. Recommended for both lay readers and students of early North American history.-Margaret Atwater Singer, Univ. of Evansville Libs., IN Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Booklist "Mancall's account of the doomed voyage is exciting, tense, and tragic... This is an excellent re-examination of [Hudson] and his final, sad effort." Minneapolis Star Tribune "[Mancall's] facility with primary sources is astounding. The story of Hudson's last voyage becomes, in his experienced hands, a lucid, fascinating lens into early Atlantic explorations. The book bristles with action, details about ship life, insight into British laws (the mutineers were found not guilty), and jaw-dropping accounts of encounters with Americans." Seattle Times "This is a story that stretches the imagination and leaves the reader with a shiver." Las Cruces Sun-News "Mancall [is] a master storyteller and historian... Any reader of Dr. Mancall's account will be caught in an exciting adventure and overwhelming tragedy." Washington Times "Mr. Mancall writes with authority in tone and scholarship." New York Post "Rather than speculate, Mancall delivers the story of how Hudson's crusade put him on a collision course with his men... But the story is perhaps most compelling in its descriptions of the Northern territory itself." Washington Post "[Fatal Journey] recounts the puzzling episode of a captain overthrown by an enraged faction of his own crew... [A] short and dependable guide to what befell a great but flawed explorer." Newark Star-Ledger "For fans of Mutiny on the Bounty and The Caine Mutiny, Fatal Journey will only add to the store and lore of desperate actions on the high seas... [Mancall] combines forensic history with pulsing narrative to achieve a highly credible account of how the mission unraveled." Boston Globe "Bracingly told." Boston Globe "Fatal Journey is a rich, exhilarating narrative of exploration, desperation, and ice-bound tragedy." History Magazine "Mancall places Hudson and the mutiny in the context of their age, a time when economic and cultural forces lured explorers and sailors into the dangers of a new world in search of profit and fame." Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research "Mancall, in this fascinating account based on a great deal of research, provides a reasonable explanation of Hudson's likely fate, after probably surviving for a polar winter or two... I recommended this excellent book to both armchair explorers and serious students of the history of the Arctic."

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