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Columbus in the Americasby William Least Heat-Moon
Synopses & Reviews
Was Christopher Columbus an inspired explorer and brilliant navigator whose daring voyages proved the naysayers wrongor was he a misinformed dreamer who succeeded by luck and never understood the true nature of his discovery? Was he a man of his time whose behavior should not be judged by modern standardsor a ruthless conquistador whose brutality and greed shocked even some of his contemporaries and laid the groundwork for genocide?
In Columbus in the Americas, the bestselling author of Blue Highways and River-Horse creates a finely detailed portrait of the most famous and controversial explorer in history. Quoting liberally from what remains of Columbuss logs and other firsthand accounts, William Least Heat-Moon takes you aboard the three tiny vessels as they set out on the voyage that would change the world forever. He recreates the anxiety of their first Atlantic crossing, explains the errors in Columbuss belief that he could reach the Far East by sailing west, and gives detailed accounts of his dealings with the Tainos, the first Native Americans Columbus met.
Columbus emerges in these pages as a brilliant, driven, and flawed man whose courage and feats of navigation were limited by his inflexibility and overshadowed by his frequently harsh treatment of Indians and his quest for wealth and glory. In his own words, he reveals both his refusal to believe that he had not reached the Far East and his astonishingly cold-hearted plan for the future of the Tainos, whom he claimed to respect and admire.
The profound impact of the voyages of Columbus affects us still today, bringing opportunity and freedom to millions of people and disaster and doom to millions more. Columbus in the Americas describes the events of each Columbian voyage in vivid detail and assesses his legacy. It tells both a remarkable story of adventure and triumph and a cautionary tale of the dark side of discovery.
A stirring tale of adventure and tragedy
"They brought balls of spun cotton and parrots and javelins and other little things that it would be tiresome to write down, and they gave everything for anything that was given to them. I was attentive and labored to find out if there was any gold."
With these portentous words, Christopher Columbus described one of his first encounters with Native Americans on the island of Guanahani, which he had named San Salvador and claimed for Spain the day before. In Columbus in the Americas, bestselling author William Least Heat-Moon reveals that Columbus's subsequent dealings with the cultures he encountered not only did considerable immediate harm, but also set the pattern of behavior for those who followed him.
Based on the logbook of Columbus and numerous other firsthand accounts of his four voyages to the New World, this vividly detailed history also examines the strengths and weaknesses of Columbus as a navigator, explorer, and leader. It recounts dramatic events such as the destruction of Fortress Navidad, the very first European settlement in the New World; a pitched battle in northern Panama with the native Guaymi people; and an agonizing year Columbus and his men spent marooned on a narrow spit of land in southern Jamaica.
Filled with stories of triumph and tragedy, courage and villainy, Columbus in the Americas offers a balanced yet unflinching portrait of the most famous and controversial explorer in history.
TURNING POINTS features preeminent writers offering fresh, personal perspectives on the defining events of our time.
The arrival of Christopher Columbus on American shores, albeit controversial, remains one of the most consequential events in world history. In "Columbus in the Americas", acclaimed and bestselling author William Least Heat Moon turns his attention to that pivotal moment when Columbus first landed in the Americas. Heat Moon, who is himself part Osage, brings a refreshing perspective to the importance and aftermath of Columbus' voyages. "Columbus in the Americas" is publishing in conjunction with Columbus Day.
About the Author
WILLIAM LEAST HEAT-MOON is the New York Times bestselling author of Blue Highways, PrairyErth, and River-Horse. Born of English-Irish-Osage ancestry, he holds a doctorate in English and a bachelor's degree in photojournalism. Heat-Moon lives in Columbia, Missouri.
Table of Contents
The First Voyage.
The Second Voyage.
The Third Voyage.
The Fourth Voyage.
A Chronology of Christopher Columbus.
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