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THE VOYAGE OF THE MATTHEW: JOHN CABOT AND THE DISCOVERY OF NORTH AMERICA, by Peter Firstbrook (Bay Books and Tapes, 192 pages, $18.95, softcover).

With this year marking the five-hundredth anniversary of the voyage of explorer John Cabot to North America, signaling post-medieval Europe’s discovery of the continent [see page 16], the author here uses maps, period artwork, and modern photography to recount not only what is known about the original 1497 voyage, but also the efforts to reconstruct Cabot’s vessel–the Matthew –and to recreate authentically his Atlantic crossing. When Cabot stepped ashore on North American soil, the author states, “he laid the foundation stone of English exploration and colonization. It is ironic that it should be an Italian who bears ultimate responsibility for North America becoming part of the English-speaking world, but, as a result of Cabot’s endeavours, the Matthew can claim to be the most important ship in the English language.”