I am really shocked at all of the positive reviews of this book. I was a fan of this author and was looking forward to this book but it is wholly unreadable. This book has no coherent timeline whatsoever and reads as if it has had zero editing or review. The author jumps around constantly, contradicts his own attempted timeline repeatedly, and fails to tell anything close to an engaging or understandable story. Honestly I can't even finish it it's so bad. Can someone really explain these positive ratings?
regardless of claims made by everybody (with subsequent retractions when Columbus became targetable), America was really discovered by Columbus. In 1492. This life is too detailed, even for Columbus, what he ate, drank etc., but it has been done carefully. Columbus (from a Genovese family) was a human being, and had his faults, but his sense of navigation was extraordinary, and we should be grateful that an up-to-date information has been made available.
Well-written book about a fascinating man and his voyages, and the Spanish colonization of the New World. I was astonished by both the bravery and the cruelty of the Columbus and his crews. Years of not knowing whether they would ever make it back to Spain; repeated near-disasters at sea; repeated rebellions among the ships' crews; friendship and war with the natives; an astonishing succession of incredible experiences. Bergreen presents Columbus as a man of great strengths and great weaknesses. He was a gifted navigator, and a terrible leader of men. His single-minded pursuit of China and gold blinded him to the implications of the land that he did find.
His excessive demands on the local population for gold that did not exist and tribute that he thought they owed the Spanish king caused some, according to Bergreen, to commit suicide by destroying their own crops. Neither they nor the Spanish would have anything to eat. The Spanish never considered trying to be self-supporting. They relied on supplies from Spain and from the Indians. Columbus tried to start a slave trade, but too many of the Indians died on the voyage back to Spain.
The book moves along well, with the various conflicts and dangers described thoroughly, but the story always moving forward.
Highly recommended, both as an interesting story and for its insight into the relations between the Spanish explorers and the population they met and nearly exterminated.
Please note the four stars above signify I like the book. I'm not saying it is not a five star book. Prior to Lawrence Bergreen's new effort the best book on Christopher Columbus, as far as I'm concerned, has been "Christopher Columbus--Admiral of the Ocean Sea" by the late Dr. Samuel Eliot Morison of Harvard University.
I did find myself reading through Dr. Morison's book on Columbus easier than Bergreen's new book on Columbus. Mr. Bergreen appears to have done considerable research in his book, but I did find myself being told in minute detail of every atrocity committed by Columbus and his men in their quest for the three goals: Gold, Glory, and God. Columbus and his Spaniards were first greeted as gods from the sky by the Tainos or Arawaks, but it wasn't long before violence raised its ugly head. Whereas Dr. Morison's book on Columbus casts a more favorable opinion on Columbus, author Bergreen exposes all the warts of Columbus and his men.
Most people don't realize that Columbus made four trips to this new world, and not just the one that initially probably landed him on the island of San Salvador. It's interesting to note that Juan Ponce De Leon was one of those on the second trip. De Leon, as we know on a later voyage, landed on Florida. Columbus was cheated out of having this new world named after him by a scoundrel named Amerigo Vespucci. Read the book and find out how. Both Morison and Bergreen agree on this.
Whatever you may think of Columbus he did believe he could reach the east by sailing west, and was willing to take the risk of crossing the ocean to get there. Had he not landed on land unknown to Europeans he and his men would have perished at sea, because their goal was thousands of miles beyond his estimation of the size of the earth.
I am reminded of a poem written by Ogden Nash regarding Columbus that went like this: So Columbus said, Somebody show me the sunset And somebody did and he set sail for it. And he discovered America and they put him in jail for it. And the fetters gave him welts, And they named America after somebody else.
As an armchair navigator you will enjoy this book, and it is worth your time. Expect a lot of detail which isn't bad if you are comfortable with this.
Outstanding---although at first I thought the author was being a little condescending toward Columbus, judging him by 21st century standards, which would be manifestly unfair, as Columbus lived 500 years ago, I came to see that the author's view was balanced after all. This is the best adventure story I ever read. And that's what it is. History, but an adventure the likes of which you probably won't come across again, at least in the realm of nonfiction. The incredible hardships endured by Columbus and his crew are worthy of some novel, and yet they actually happened, not once but again and again, and just when you think Columbus can't take anymore, he does. And he endures, and he fights for what he considers his due from Ferdinand and Isabella. It is a fascinating story, absolutely spellbinding.
An amazing account of the politics and "empire" of Spain and Portugal in search of gold and a path to China. Interestingly, Coloumbus died in chains as a prisoner of the Spanish Crown. His personality and the amazing FOUR voyages from Spain to the Carribean are stories which we as "civilized" Americans will find hard to comprehend. The book does lack in its expansion of how badly the natives were exploited in search of troves of gold....and few (including me) will realize how politically charged by the Spanish Crown this whole "exploitation" not exploration of the "new world" really was....a great read and hihgly recommended despite its minor shortcomings on treatment of the natives....