Nov 5, 2011

Irresistible North, by Andrea di Robilant

I decided I needed to make a foray into nonfiction after so much Tamora Pierce, and this was a great choice. This short book is about the Zen brothers, medieval Venetian gentlemen who's Renaissance descendent claimed had traveled to Iceland, Greenland, and North America in the 1390s. Di Robilant researched both the journey itself and its historiography, which was a back and forth debate over the veracity of the account. Di Robilant retraces the steps the younger Zen claims the brothers took, trying to identify confusing place names and oddly drawn maps with actual places. Never does the author claim to be the deciding voice on the matter, though his research and work is compelling.

The writing is quite easy to read; the narrative flows and, since much of it is first person as opposed to the boring third person factual descriptions of most history books, the book reads more like a story than a retelling of facts. This is light reading, perfect for someone interested in history but not willing to dive straight into the depths of historical nonfiction.

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