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About Laurence Bergreen
Laurence Bergreen is the author of four biographies, each considered the definitive work on its subject: Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life, Capone: The Man and the Era, As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin, and Voyage to Mars: NASA's Search for Life Beyond Earth. A graduate of Harvard University, he lives in New York City.
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Titles By Laurence Bergreen
Christopher Columbus's 1492 voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a trading route to China, and his unexpected landfall in the Americas, is a watershed event in world history. Yet Columbus made three more voyages within the span of only a decade, each designed to demonstrate that he could sail to China within a matter of weeks and convert those he found there to Christianity. These later voyages were even more adventurous, violent, and ambiguous, but they revealed Columbus's uncanny sense of the sea, his mingled brilliance and delusion, and his superb navigational skills. In all these exploits he almost never lost a sailor. By their conclusion, however, Columbus was broken in body and spirit. If the first voyage illustrates the rewards of exploration, the latter voyages illustrate the tragic costs- political, moral, and economic.
In rich detail Laurence Bergreen re-creates each of these adventures as well as the historical background of Columbus's celebrated, controversial career. Written from the participants' vivid perspectives, this breathtakingly dramatic account will be embraced by readers of Bergreen's previous biographies of Marco Polo and Magellan and by fans of Nathaniel Philbrick, Simon Winchester, and Tony Horwitz.
“FASCINATING . . . Dramatic and timely.” —New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice
In this grand and thrilling narrative, the acclaimed biographer of Magellan and Columbus reveals the singular adventures of Sir Francis Drake, whose mastery of the seas during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I changed the course of history.
“Entrancing . . . Very good indeed.” —Wall Street Journal
Before he was secretly dispatched by Queen Elizabeth to circumnavigate the globe, or was called upon to save England from the Spanish Armada, Francis Drake was perhaps the most wanted—and successful—pirate ever to sail. Nicknamed “El Draque” by the Spaniards who placed a bounty on his head, the notorious red-haired, hot-tempered Drake pillaged galleons laden with New World gold and silver, stealing a vast fortune for his queen—and himself. For Elizabeth, Drake made the impossible real, serving as a crucial and brilliantly adaptable instrument of her ambitions to transform England from a third-rate island kingdom into a global imperial power.
In 1580, sailing on Elizabeth’s covert orders, Drake became the first captain to circumnavigate the earth successfully. (Ferdinand Magellan had died in his attempt.) Part exploring expedition, part raiding mission, Drake’s audacious around-the-world journey in the Golden Hind reached Patagonia, the Pacific Coast of present-day California and Oregon, the Spice Islands, Java, and Africa. Almost a decade later, Elizabeth called upon Drake again. As the devil-may-care vice admiral of the English fleet, Drake dramatically defeated the once-invincible Spanish Armada, spurring the British Empire’s ascent and permanently wounding its greatest rival.
The relationship between Drake and Elizabeth is the missing link in our understanding of the rise of the British Empire, and its importance has not been fully described or appreciated. Framed around Drake’s key voyages as a window into this crucial moment in British history, In Search of a Kingdom is a rousing adventure narrative entwining epic historical themes with intimate passions.
“A first-rate historical page turner.” —New York Times Book Review
The acclaimed and bestselling account of Ferdinand Magellan’s historic 60,000-mile ocean voyage.
Ferdinand Magellan's daring circumnavigation of the globe in the sixteenth century was a three-year odyssey filled with sex, violence, and amazing adventure. Now in Over the Edge of the World, prize-winning biographer and journalist Laurence Bergreen entwines a variety of candid, firsthand accounts, bringing to life this groundbreaking and majestic tale of discovery that changed both the way explorers would henceforth navigate the oceans and history itself.
Now updated to include a new introduction commemorating the 500th anniversary of Magellan’s voyage.
As the first European to travel extensively throughout Asia, Marco Polo was the earliest bridge between East and West. His famous journeys took him across the boundaries of the known world, along the dangerous Silk Road, and into the court of Kublai Kahn, where he won the trust of the most feared and reviled leader of his day. Polo introduced the cultural riches of China to Europe, spawning centuries of Western fascination with Asia.
In this lively blend of history, biography, and travelogue, acclaimed author Laurence Bergreen separates myth from history, creating the most authoritative account yet of Polo's remarkable adventures. Exceptionally narrated and written with a discerning eye for detail, Marco Polo is as riveting as the life it describes.
Bergreen shows the seedy and glamorous sides of the age, the rise of Prohibition, the illicit liquor trade, the battlefield that was Chicago. Delving beyond the Capone mythology. Bergreen finds a paradox: a coldblooded killer, thief, pimp, and racketeer who was also a devoted son and father; a self-styled Robin Hood who rose to the top of organized crime. Capone is a masterful portrait of an extraordinary time and of the one man who reigned supreme over it all, Al Capone.
Today, “Casanova” is a synonym for “great lover,” yet the real story of this remarkable figure is little known. A figure straight out of a Henry Fielding novel, Giacomo Casanova was erotic, brilliant, impulsive, and desperate for recognition; a self-destructive genius. Over the course of his lifetime, he claimed to have seduced more than one hundred women, among them married women, young women in convents, girls just barely in their teens, women of high and low birth alike.
Abandoned by his mother, an actress and courtesan, Casanova was raised by his illiterate grandmother, coming of age in a Venice filled with spies and political intrigue. He was intellectually curious and read forbidden books, for which he was jailed. He staged a dramatic escape from Venice’s notorious prison, I Piombi, the only person known to have done so. He then fled to France, ingratiated himself at the royal court, and invented the national lottery that still exists to this day. He crisscrossed Europe, landing for a while in St. Petersburg, where he was admitted to the court of Catherine the Great. He corresponded with Voltaire and met Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte—assisting them as they composed the timeless opera Don Giovanni. And he wrote what many consider the greatest memoir of the era, the twelve-volume Story of My Life.
Laurence Bergreen’s Casanova recounts this astonishing life in rich, intimate detail, and at the same time, paints a dazzling portrait of eighteenth-century Europe, filled with a cast characters from serving girls to kings and courtiers, “great fun for any history lover” (Kirkus Reviews).
A middle-grade adaptation of Laurence Bergreen's adult bestseller, about Magellan's historic voyage around the globe.
On September 6, 1522, a horribly battered ship manned by eighteen malnourished, scurvy-ridden sailors appeared on the horizon near a Spanish port. They were survivors of the first European expedition to circle the globe. Originally comprised of five ships and 260 sailors, the fleet's captain and most of its crew were dead. How did Ferdinand Magellan's voyage to circle the world—one of the largest and best-equipped expeditions ever mounted—turn into this ghost ship? The answer is provided in this thoroughly researched tale of mutiny and murder spanning the entire globe, marked equally by triumph and tragedy. Thrilling, grisly, and completely true, Magellan: Over the Edge of the World tells a story that not only marks a turning point in history, but also resonates powerfully with the present.
Born in 1901 to the sixteen-year-old daughter of a slave, he came of age among the prostitutes, pimps, and rag-and-bone merchants of New Orleans. He married four times and enjoyed countless romantic involvements in and around his marriages. A believer in marijuana for the head and laxatives for the bowels, he was also a prolific diarist and correspondent, a devoted friend to celebrities from Bing Crosby to Ella Fitzgerald, a perceptive social observer, and, in his later years, an international goodwill ambassador.
And, of course, he was a dazzling musician. From the bordellos and honky-tonks of Storyville--New Orleans's red light district--to the upscale nightclubs in Chicago, New York, and Hollywood, Armstrong's stunning playing, gravelly voice, and irrepressible personality captivated audiences and critics alike. Recognized and beloved wherever he went, he nonetheless managed to remain vigorously himself.
Now Laurence Bergreen's remarkable book brings to life the passionate, courageous, and charismatic figure who forever changed the face of American music.
Se cumplen quinientos años del inicio de la primera circunnavegación de la Tierra. En agosto de 1519, al mando de una flota de cinco barcos y más de doscientos tripulantes, Fernando de Magallanes zarpó del puerto de Sevilla y emprendió el viaje que demostró que la Tierra era redonda, que las Américas estaban a miles de kilómetros del continente asiático y que los océanos cubrían la mayor parte de la superficie del planeta.
Esta travesía adquiere toda su dimensión en este libro, que recrea no sólo el diario de viaje del erudito italiano Antonio Pigafetta, sino numerosos testimonios de los marineros supervivientes. Unido a una exhaustiva investigación, esta obra nos muestra las múltiples perspectivas desde las que se puede ver el primer viaje alrededor del mundo y pone de manifiesto, como señala el autor en el nuevo prólogo que acompaña a esta edición, la maraña de conflictos causados tanto por la lucha contra las fuerzas de la naturaleza como por la ambición y la deslealtad.
From New York Times bestselling author Laurence Bergreen and author Sara Fray comes this immaculately researched history for young readers detailing the life of Zheng He, his complex and enduring friendship with his emperor, and the epic Seven Voyages he led that would establish China as a global power.
1405. The central coast of China.
At nearly seven feet tall, Admiral Zheng He looked out at the sea before him.
For the next three decades, the oceans would be his home, as he would command over 1,500 ships and thousands of sailors in seven journeys that would predate the heart of the European Age of Exploration. Over his seven epic journeys, Zheng He explored the Northern Pacific and Indian Oceans, traveling as far as the east coast of Africa, expanding Chinese power globally, warring with pirates, and capturing enemies along the way in the name of his emperor, Zhu Di. But this giant figure was not always at the helm of a ship.