Travel is like so much else; we get what we put into it. You’ll enjoy a trip to Portugal much more if you learn a little about the rich history of this small corner of the world.
But what should you read? Travel guidebooks reduce centuries of history to a few lines, leaving us with little more than a boring list of names and dates. History books, on the other hand, are often so dense with scholarship that it is easy to get lost.
Luckily, John dos Passos, a great American writer whose father was from the island of Madeira, produced a highly readable account of Portugal’s age of discovery. His book introduces us to the main protagonists that shaped this golden era. Through their triumphs and defeats, their joys and tears, we learn the story of Portugal.
John Dos Passos, The Portugal Story: Three Centuries of Exploration and Discovery, Doubleday, 1995.