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History Expeditions & Discoveries

Race to the New World

Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, and a Lost History of Discovery

by (author) Douglas Hunter

Douglas & McIntyre
Initial publish date
Feb 2012
Expeditions & Discoveries, General, Adventurers & Explorers
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2012
    List Price

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The compelling tale of a rivalry that drove two unlikely explorers to the edge of a new world, informed by groundbreaking new research and superior narrative power.


The final decade of the 15th century was pivotal in world history. The Genoese mariner Christopher Columbus sailed westward into the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, determined to secure for Spain a more direct route to the riches of the Indies. But as Columbus struggled to capitalize on his momentous discovery of distant landfalls, a troubled Venetian bridge contractor in Spain, on the lam from creditors and remembered as John Cabot, audaciously reinvented himself as an explorer and mounted a rival quest for England.


In The Race to the New World, critically acclaimed author Douglas Hunter details the high-stakes race that threatened the precarious power balance of Europe and led both men to the shores of a new world that neither was looking for.


With the use of fresh historical evidence, Hunter tells an untold story of the parallel journeys of Columbus and Cabot -- two explorers whose interconnected lives are only fully understood together.

About the author

DOUGLAS HUNTER has written widely on business, history, the environment and sports. He was a finalist for the Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction and the Governor General’s Award for his book God’s Mercies. His previous books include The Race to the New World; Molson: The Birth of a Business Empire; Yzerman: The Making of a Champion; and The Bubble and the Bear: How Nortel Burst the Canadian Dream, which won the National Business Book Award. He is also a doctoral candidate in history at York University, a Vanier Scholar and Canada’s 2012 William E. Taylor Fellow. Born and raised in Hamilton, where Tim Hortons first became successful, Hunter now lives in Port McNicoll, Ontario.


Douglas Hunter's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“[A] fascinating story of political desperation and artful salesmanship amid a European struggle for wealth and power.”

Washington Post

"Hunter is on track to become a major player in popular Canadian history."

Literary Review of Canada

"While not for beginner's, Hunter's book is a welcome addition...Highly Recommended."


"The Race to the New World is a painstaking work built to withstand the scrutiny of specialists...Hunter is a deft stylist witha keen eye for detail, and he brings his leading figures to life while transforming our understanding of early exploration. This one is a keeper."

Canadian Geographic

"It is always a treat when new information on an interesting topic emerges, or likewise a new interpretation of existing facts. It is rare indeed to find both in the same book. Hunter delivers an intellectual and historical mystery sure to enthrall those interested in the early European exploration of the Americas."

Stephen Bown, author of 1494: How a Family Feud in Medieval Spain Divided the World in Half

"Douglas Hunter has produced yet another vivid, original narrative that brings to life a whole period while shedding new light on early explorers who sailed from Europe for the New World."

Ken McGoogan, author of Fatal Passage and Race to the Polar Sea

"...When Hunter focuses on Columbus and Cabot, the reading is easy. The explorers are presented as not having the most sterling of characters -- Cabot, a self-taught engineer, took the money and ran after a bridge-building project he proposed proved beyond his capacity; Columbus kidnapped hundreds of slaves in the hope that their sale would dig him out of debt. The author builds a compelling case not only that the two mariners knew each other but also that Cabot had sailed on Columbus's second voyage...All in all, it's a well-researched story, fascinating in some places, slow going in others, but rewarding in the end."

Canada's History Magazine

"As this fascinating historical detective story unfolds, new pieces of an old puzzle are put into place, providing fresh perspective on the traditional discovery narrative...[an] important contribution to the scholarship of exploration history..."


"...opens new windows on the history of exploration."

Publishers Weekly

"[A]n intriguing account...Hunter turns what seems like a well-known story into something well worth exploring again."

Kirkus Reviews

Other titles by Douglas Hunter