Synopses & Reviews
A gripping account of four explorers adrift in an unknown land and the harrowing journey that took them across North America 270 years before Lewis and Clark
One part Heart of Darkness, one part Lewis and Clark, Brutal Journey tells the story of a group of explorers who came to the new world on the heels of Cortés; bound for glory, only four of four hundred would survive. Eight years and some five thousand miles later, three Spaniards and a black Moroccan wandered out of the wilderness to the north of the Rio Grande and into Cortes gold-drenched Mexico.
The four survivors of the Narváez expedition brought nothing back from their sojourn other than their story, but what a tale it was. They had become killers and cannibals, torturers and torture victims, slavers and enslaved. They became faith healers, arms dealers, canoe thieves, spider eaters, and finally, when there were only the four of them left in the high Texas desert, they became itinerate messiahs. They became, in other words, whatever it took to stay alive long enough to inch their way toward Mexico, the only place where they were certain they would find an outpost of the Spanish empire.
The journey of the Cabeza De Vaca expedition is one of the greatest survival epics in the history of American exploration. By drawing on the accounts of the first explorers and the most recent findings of archaeologists and academic historians, Paul Schneider offers a thrilling and authentic narrative to replace a legend of North American exploration.
"Despite his failure to suppress the rebellious Corts in Mexico, would-be conquistador Pnfilo de Narvez was given another chance by the king of Spain, who awarded him governorship over the entire Gulf Coast of the modern United States. But Narvez's luck was no better this time: the expedition, which arrived in 1528, was a complete disaster. Out of the 400 men who went ashore in Florida, only four made it to Mexico eight years later, long after Narvez himself was lost at sea in a makeshift boat. Schneider (The Adirondacks) has only two firsthand documents to work with, but he ably combines the raw narrative with a wealth of secondary research to create a vivid tale filled with gripping scenes, as when natives lead the starving Spanish forces into a swamp ambush. Though primarily concerned with the Spaniards' experiences, Schneider also provides well-rounded portrayals of the indigenous cultures they came in contact with among them tribes that came to regard the handful of survivors as magical healers who could raise the dead. The ethnographic balance takes a thrilling adventure and turns it into an engrossing case study of early European colonialism gone epically wrong. Illus., map." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
is a wonderfully rich account of an incredible cross-country journey of survival. Paul Schneider's beautifully crafted book takes us to another time in another world, a place of native American shamans, Spanish conquistadors, and unbelievable determination. Best of all, it really happened."--Jerald T. Milanich, Ph.D., archaeologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History and author of Florida Indians from Ancient Times to the Present
The journey of the Narvaez expedition is one of the greatest survival epics in the history of American exploration. By combining the accounts of the explorers with the most recent findings of archaeologists and academic historians, this work offers an authentic narrative to replace a legend of North American exploration.
“Schneiders thorough research and vivid writing create a fast-paced, moving story, one that is difficult to believe and impossible to forget.” —The New York Times Book Review A gripping survival epic, Brutal Journey tells the story of an army of would-be conquerors, bound for glory, who landed in Florida in 1528. But only four of the four hundred would survive: eight years and some five thousand miles later, three Spaniards and a black Moroccan wandered out of the wilderness to the north of the Rio Grande and into Cortess gold-drenched Mexico. The survivors of the Narváez expedition brought nothing back other than their story, but what a tale it was. They had become killers and cannibals, torturers and torture victims, slavers and enslaved. They became faith healers, arms dealers, canoe thieves, spider eaters. They became, in other words, whatever it took to stay alive.
About the Author
, author of the highly praised and successful The Adirondacks
(0-8050-5990-3), a New York Times
Notable Book, and The Enduring Shore
(0-8050-6734-5), lives with his wife and son in Martha's Vineyard and Bradenton, Florida.