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Columbus: The Four Voyagesby Laurence Bergreen
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of the Magellan biography, Over the Edge of the World, a mesmerizing new account of the great explorer Christopher Columbus's 1492 voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a trading route to China, and his unexpected landfall in the Americas, is a watershed event in world history. Yet Columbus made three more voyages within the span of only a decade, each designed to demonstrate that he could sail to China within a matter of weeks and convert those he found there to Christianity. These later voyages were even more adventurous, violent, and ambiguous, but they revealed Columbus's uncanny sense of the sea, his mingled brilliance and delusion, and his superb navigational skills. In all these exploits he almost never lost a sailor. By their conclusion, however, Columbus was broken in body and spirit. If the first voyage illustrates the rewards of exploration, the latter voyages illustrate the tragic costs — political, moral, and economic.
In rich detail Laurence Bergreen re-creates each of these adventures as well as the historical background of Columbus's celebrated, controversial career. Written from the participants' vivid perspectives, this breathtakingly dramatic account will be embraced by readers of Bergreen's previous biographies of Marco Polo and Magellan and by fans of Nathaniel Philbrick, Simon Winchester, and Tony Horwitz.
"Columbus's first voyage to the New World was one of the formative events of human history. But who was Christopher Columbus? Renowned historian and biographer Bergreen (Marco Polo) seeks to illuminate the complex motivations and historical circumstances that shaped the explorer's life, and the inquisitive, stubborn, and supremely self-assured nature that led him to sail to the end of the world and beyond. Focusing on the lesser-known events of Columbus's three later voyages and his disastrous, near-genocidal rule in Hispaniola, Bergreen's captivating narrative reveals a man obsessed to the point of delusion with acquiring gold and sending it back to Spain, perpetually unsure whether he should convert, enslave, or annihilate the natives he encountered, and dismissive of the continent he discovered, forever hoping to escape America and find a quick passage to the riches of China and India just beyond the next wave. His last voyage ended in a shipwreck, and Columbus died in 1503 disgraced, exhausted, and demoralized, although the toll of his voyages was surely felt more keenly by the oppressed Caribs and Taanos than by the admiral himself. While sensationalist and lacking in scholarly rigor, Bergreen's biography makes good use of the firsthand accounts of Columbus's contemporaries, rendering a dramatic story that will appeal to general readership. 7 maps. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Laurence Bergreen's Columbus was brilliant, audacious, volatile, paranoid and ruthless. What emerges in this biography, a worthy addition to the literature on Columbus is a surprising and revealing portrait of a man who might have been the title character in a Shakespearan tragedy." The New York Times
"Laurence Bergreen's ambitious new biography, Columbus: The Four Voyages [is] a spellbinding epic that's simultaneously a profoundly private portrait of the most complex, compelling, controversial creature ever to board a boat. This scrupulously researched, unbiased account of four death-defying journeys to The New World reveals the Admiral's paradoxical personality." USA Today
"A compelling new book [that] details the explorer's trips to the New World, including three you haven't heard about." Salon
"Once you have read this superb account of Columbus' four voyages, you will never be content with the cliche about the Italian-born explorer's sailing the ocean blue in 1492. Author of many prize-winning popular history books on topics as diverse as Marco Polo and Al Capone. Laurence Bergreen is a New York-based scholar whose portrayal of the life and times of Christopher Columbus is a tour de force." Winnipeg Free Press
"Laurence Bergreen's new book, refreshingly, is fluid in style in its style and comprehensive in its research. Richly illustrated and enhanced with maps that are as legible as they are relevant. Columbus: The Four Voyages is complex in its themes, intriguing in its substance and sparkling with surprises." The Washington Times
"In this scrupulously fair and often thrilling account of his four voyages to the 'New World,' Bergreen reveals Columbus as brilliant, brave, adventurous, and deeply flawed....A superb reexamination of the character and career of a still controversial historical agent." Booklist
About the Author
Laurence Bergreen is the prizewinning author of eight previous works of nonfiction, including Marco Polo, Over the Edge of the World, Voyage to Mars, and Capone. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, and Esquire. He lives in New York City.
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