Did a small crew of Irish monks really sail to the New World in the 6th Century? The answer very well might be yes. And in a boat made of leather no less. Tim Severin's account of his building of an historical leather vessel and subsequent sailing of it from Ireland to Newfoundland is absolutely fascinating.
— David W.
Could an Irish monk in the sixth century really have sailed all the way across the Atlantic in a small open boat, thus beating Columbus to the New World by almost a thousand years? Relying on the medieval text of St. Brendan, award-winning adventure writer Tim Severin painstakingly researched and built a boat identical to the leather curragh that carried Brendan on his epic voyage. He found a centuries-old, family-run tannery to prepare the ox hides in the medieval way; he undertook an exhaustive search for skilled harness makers (the only people who would know how to stitch the three-quarter-inch-thick hides together); he located one of the last pieces of Irish-grown timber tall enough to make the mainmast. But his courage and resourcefulness were truly tested on the open seas, including one heart-pounding episode when he and his crew repaired a dangerous tear in the leather hull by hanging over the side--their heads sometimes submerged under the freezing waves--to restitch the leather. A modern classic in the tradition of Kon-Tiki, The Brendan Voyage seamlessly blends high adventure and historical relevance. It has been translated into twenty-seven languages since its original publication in 1978.
With a new Introduction by Malachy McCourt, author of A Monk Swimming
About the Author
Tim Severin, explorer, traveler, author, filmmaker, and lecturer, made his first expedition while he was still a student at Oxford: following the route of Marco Polo on a motorcycle. He has also re-created the journeys of Ulysses, Jason and the Argonauts, Sinbad, and Hsu Fu (which required sailing across the Pacific on a bamboo raft). He lives in Ireland.
Jon Krakauer is the author of Into Thin Air, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Into the Wild. His work has appeared in many magazines, including Outside, Smithsonian, and National Geographic. He chose the books in the Modern Library Exploration series for their literary merit and historical significance--and because he found them such a pleasure to read.