The Quest for America

In his introduction, Geoffrey Ashe says “this book will have served its purpose if it defines the problems, and suggests how researches which are not yet scientific may become so.” This is a worthwhile aim, but it cannot be said to have been carried out adequately by the six authors of its various sections. Yet the volume has some interest for LDS readers.

Excellent scholarship is evident in Ashe’s own treatment of the “Speculations of the Old World” about a dimly-known America. In open-minded but not incautious fashion he considers speculations of the Classical world (e.g., Atlantis) and of the Middle Ages (with emphasis on the St. Brendan legend). Luce covers some of the same topics from the point of view of navigation and cartography rather than legend. His discussion of Egyptian, Phoenician, Greek, and Roman voyaging and cartography are sound though brief. The caution of both Ashe and Luce (for example, Luce is not persuaded by Cyrus Gordon’s claims for the Parahyba Stone from Brazil) may make the general reader somewhat impatient to get on to the more romantic speculations in some of the later articles.

Published in BYU Studies Quarterly 12:3
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