The Portuguese, the first great exploring nation, changed the world's perception of the planet. This book attempts to discover what led the explorers to launch out into the unknown, and to find out what has become of them since.
The Portuguese acquired a huge empiore and almos unimaginable grandeur earlier than the British, and they hung on to their colonies until later. Since the death of the dictator Salazar, the country has ridden the switchback of radicalism and reaction. Paul Hyland arrived in Lisbon in a cargo boat. Two centuries earlier, the novelist Henry Fielding voyaged to what he called "the nastiest city in the world" to die. The city he saw was largely demolished by an earthquake the following year. Fielding's "Voyage to Lisbon" was the catalyst for Hyland's journey up the River Tagus to the heart of Portugal, through the countryside. He meets fishwives and bullfighters, communes with the ghosts of the writers who preceded - not only Fielding, but also Camoes and Pessoa - and encounters Portugal's own once-and-future king, DomSebastiao, reputed to have died in 1578, but actually alive and well and waiting to answer his country's call.