In about pages, Bergreen pulls together all four of Columbus' trip to the new world. He blends Columbus's story into the context of his time. And despite the fact that he died miserable, poor and a broken old man, Bergreen writes, " To him, it was the fulfillment of a divine prophecy. To his Sovereigns and through ministers, it was intended as a land grab and a way to plunder gold. Instead, it became, through forces Columbus inadvertently set in motion and only dimly understood, the most important voyage of its kind ever made.
Jan 31, George rated it it was amazing Shelves: The book is structured around the four voyages. However, there is also a good amount of biographical information about Columbus and a decent amount of historical information about Europe and the Americas of the time. Bergreen paints a complex portrait of Columbus: A brilliant, courageous navigator, but a mediocre administrator. A person driven by noble ideas and driven by greed. At times visionary and at times ruthless.
Although Columbus led the first expedition of the European invasion, events quickly overtook him. He lost what little control he had over the various factions of both Europeans and of Indigenous Peoples in the "New World. The full realization that the Americas were massive continents between Europe and Asia took hold only after a few decades. Even at the end of his life he died in at age 54 Columbus thought he had journeyed to lands off the east coast of Asia.
The invasion of the Western Hemisphere by European nations beginning in is one of the most significant events in the past 10, years of earth history. The "Columbian Exchange" unleashed forces that are still impacting the human race and the earth to this day. This book is an outstanding account of the life and voyages of the person who started it all. I strongly recommend this book to those interested in world history, exploration, and colonialism.
Apr 23, Bou rated it liked it Shelves: A detailed and extensive description of the four Columbian voyages, which also provides a good insight in the mysterious man behind Columbus. A perfect introduction to the discovery of the America's How is it possible, that the man who discovered America, after two years was sent back to home in chains from Hispaniola to Spain?
How was it possible that King Ferdinand disdained him, after he discovered rich lands that would enable Spain to dominate the European continent for the century to come? H A detailed and extensive description of the four Columbian voyages, which also provides a good insight in the mysterious man behind Columbus. This book is not only a description of the voyages itself, but also gives great insight in the man behind Columbus. We see his visions, his God-fearing conviction, his thirst for gold and above all his delusions. But also a man who possessed almost supernatural navigational capabilities, managed to survive a beached shipwreck for almost a year and had almost superficial good luck, which helped him to survive a grand total of 4 voyages in all.
Yet, at the end of his live he was not the rich and powerful man he thought he would be, instead dying a poor man in a monastery, whose remains are still not decisively located to this day, cursed to roam the continents he discovered himself. Apr 15, Lewis Smith rated it it was amazing. Christopher Columbus - heroic bearer of the light of civilization and Christianity to a world lost in darkness?
Christopher Columbus - genocidal egomaniac who raped and plundered a virgin continent and sold its people to slavery and destruction? Columbus is one of the most celebrated and vilified men of history, and also one of the least understood. Bergreen's new biography separates the man from the myth, showing a Columbus who was neither an enlightened geni Christopher Columbus - heroic bearer of the light of civilization and Christianity to a world lost in darkness?
Bergreen's new biography separates the man from the myth, showing a Columbus who was neither an enlightened genius nor deluded psychopath, although at times he had attributes of both. Chock full of fascinating details and character sketches of the men Columbus interacted with on both sides of the Atlantic, this work is a worthy addition to the historian's library.
Hands down, this is the best Columbus book I have ever read. Really sort of poor. Rife with small mistakes and inconsistencies that are distracting even if you're not looking out for them. There was hardly any analysis or even synthesis of different sources; he really just told me a story, and I couldn't help but think that I'd have gotten more out of it if I'd just read Las Casas and Columbus's letters.
In fairness, I realize after finishing this that the author is a biographer, not a historian even a popular historian , and if I'm going to read a book b Really sort of poor. In fairness, I realize after finishing this that the author is a biographer, not a historian even a popular historian , and if I'm going to read a book by a biographer I shouldn't be expecting quality history.
Mar 04, Linda rated it really liked it Shelves: Prior to reading Mr. Bergreen's book, my knowledge of Christopher Columbus was sketchy, and my opinion of him generally negative. I came away from it with a greater understanding and even admiration for Columbus as a navigator and explorer. The book is easy to read, and well worth the effort to understand this exceptional person and his lasting effect on our world. Sep 28, Michael Harrel rated it liked it. This is a very fascinating book.
The author takes you on all four of Columbus' voyages and gives a great amount of detail into the traumatic life of the great explorer. That being said, the author does suffer from that predilection, seemingly endemic among modern historians, to judge the past by the present. For instance, the author repeatedly and condescendingly asserts that Columbus "refused" to consider that his new discovery was in fact a new world and not merely the coastline of China, whic This is a very fascinating book.
For instance, the author repeatedly and condescendingly asserts that Columbus "refused" to consider that his new discovery was in fact a new world and not merely the coastline of China, which he thought it was. By doing so the author forgets what a truly groundbreaking discovery Columbus made. He, and everyone else in his time, had no clue about the Americas and thought that China did lie on the other side of the Atlantic. We cannot fault them for not immediately realizing what it took decades to figure out.
In light of this, it should also not be surprising that the author engages in the all-too common Columbus-bashing, forgetting that institutions like slavery were well-established in his time and culture and the idea of claiming territory by discovery was the general practice.
While certainly these things can be criticized on their merits, Columbus' failure to rise above his time should not be the cause for us to pass too harsh of a judgment upon him. The author lists all of the data necessary to reach this conclusion but fails to do so. Finally, and least surprising of all, the author incredulously downplays Columbus' spiritual motivations as nothing much more than a cover for greed and gold.
But the evidence seems much more complicated than that. Columbus certainly desired gold as did his sovereigns and pretty much all other Europeans exploring at that time , but his spiritual motivations were nonetheless genuine. As he grew older Columbus even adopted some monastic practices such as wearing a habit and living in a monastery in Spain.
Thus, the reflections in his journals and letters upon a higher power are not mere after the fact spiritualizations but they appear to be the heartfelt expressions of a man caught up in events that were larger than he could control and that demanded a society and culture more enlightened than the one to which he belonged. The author's "refusal" to see this detracts from the work. Despite these weaknesses and others , the author does reach a reasonable conclusion: As the discoverer of a new land, he ushered in an era of world history that has been at once both great and terrible.
Flawed as he and his time were, he deserves a respected place in our collective memory. Jan 30, Christopher Fox rated it really liked it. A wonderful chronological narrative of a little-known explorer. I say "little-known" because although everyone in the English speaking world knows the rhyme about "In , Columbus sailed the ocean blue" and credits him with discovering the New World, almost nothing else is general knowledge about the extent of his voyages, his personality, his navigational skills, his leadership style, the politics surrounding his life and work, his brother and son, etc.
There is much to be told and Berg A wonderful chronological narrative of a little-known explorer.
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There is much to be told and Bergreen manages to cover it all with a completeness and in a readable style that leaves one with a much more complete portrait of this pivotal figure in world history. If the story becomes somewhat repetitious it's because, in the initial phases, that's all they did: By the 3rd and 4th voyages however there were many more players in the opening of a new continent and Columbus was relegated to a less than supreme role, a change which he took in stride if not happily.
This is a lovely book and will reward anyone who is interested in finding out about a truly remarkable person in an age of remarkable people. Not much story-telling here as it mostly repeats prose from Columbus' and his contemporaries' journals, strung together with the author's pedantic and repetitive observations about how out of touch Columbus was with 21st century mores and geographical knowledge.
Nonetheless, the book serves as a decent overview of the four voyages, even if it is a bit of slog at times. Nov 13, Drew Zagorski rated it really liked it Shelves: Have read a couple of Bergreen's previous works and this one lives up the standard. A very well written narrative of the four voyages. Bergreen doesn't polish over anything in the telling of Columbus' expeditions and exploitation of the Caribbean islands. This should be required reading for high-school and university level history classes.
Columbus is presented as an unsympathetic figure who was driven and motivated to make his mark at the expense of whoever was in his way. And as he "found God, Have read a couple of Bergreen's previous works and this one lives up the standard. And as he "found God," spun his actions with that cover. Overall, a very graphic telling of the conquests of the Columbian voyages.
Feb 28, Ken Ryu rated it it was amazing. The period of the 12th moon for the year , the men from the sky came to our islands. They came across the great sea in 3 massive boats. The chief of the sky men was named Christopher Columbus. His biggest boat was named the Santa Maria. The smaller ones were so named the Nina and the Pinta. These boats had large straight branchless trees from which large cloths were draped. These clothes could capture the four winds and propel the sky people across the sea.
Most of the sky men had brown hair The period of the 12th moon for the year , the men from the sky came to our islands. Most of the sky men had brown hair and pale skin. On their bodies, the sky men wore light cloths from head to foot. They also wore coverings on the top and bottom of both of their feet. On their heads, many of the sky men wore thick fabric to cover the top of their heads.
These head coverings had a circular brim that shielded the sun from their eyes. Some of the men also had hair covering their checks, upper lips and chin, making them look like furry creatures. We brought the sky men corn, yams, cassava bread and water. Our local chief Guacanagari befriended Chief Columbus and the sky men. They were most fascinated with our yellow metal the sky people call oro. They also were awed by and colorful parrots which are not found in the land of the sky people. Chief Columbus explained to Guacanagari that the sky people come from the greatest land in the world, eastward across the great sea.
Their land is called Espana, which has the most intelligent, bold, and beautiful men and women on earth. The sky people credited their greatness to the blessings of the greatest god of all, Jesus Christo. They erected a large branchless tree with a horizontal wooden cross bar in honor of their god.
On the eve of the most holy day for the sky men, a great disaster struck. The mighty Santa Maria was wrecked. Chief Columbus was greatly saddened by the loss of the great boat and shed many tears. Our people rushed to help save the stores and valuables from the broken Santa Maria. Chief Guacanagari provided two houses for the displaced sky men. Chief Columbus was greatly appreciative of our help. He gave us the most amazing beads of a material called glass. One can see straight through from one side of the glass bead to the other. When the sun shines on these beads, it makes a most pleasing illumination.
They also gave our people heavenly bells which produce a beautiful sound when lightly struck. In return we provided the sky men with food, oro, parrots and jewels we collect from the shellfish, which they call pearls. Chief Columbus stayed on our islands for less than one moon period before taking the boats Pinta and Nina back across the great sea. He left behind 37 sky men and vowed to return soon. The trouble with these sky men began soon after Chief Columbus departed. These lazy sky men forcibly took and violated our women whom they found to be most beautiful.
They would do no work and were drunk most of the hours of the day. Our great chief of chiefs Caonabo was greatly offended by these sky men. He led our men to burn their village.
Columbus: The Four Voyages
Many of the sky men drowned to death, and others, our men killed. Chief Guacanagari was worried what the great Chief Columbus would do once he returned to find all his men killed. On the period of the 11th moon of the year , Chief Columbus returned to our island with 17 ships and sky people, including some sky women.
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Chief Guacanagari explained to Chief Columbus the great disrespect and behavior of the sky men after he left. He explained that his great Chief Caonabo ordered the murder of the sky men despite his pleas to show mercy on these wayward men. Chief Columbus set up a village for the many sky people. He named the village La Isabela in honor of his great queen. He also named our island Hispanola after his homeland. We had hoped that Chief Columbus would help protect our Tainos people from our enemy the Caribs.
The Caribs stole our women, killed and ate our men and babies, and castrated and enslaved our boys. We were soon to find out that the sky men had more cruelty in their hearts than our enemies the Caribs. Chief Columbus was asking about the oro and where he and the sky men could find more of the yellow metal.
We told him of a place on this island callled Cibao where the oro was most plentiful. An evil sky man named Ojeda lead sky men and many of our people to Cibao to collect the oro. He forced our people to leave our crop fields and work day and night to collect oro for the sky men. Our men were dying from overwork. To add to our misery, our people were dying from starvation as our crops died from neglect.
Columbus : the four voyages, 1492-1504
Soon, finding oro was getting more and more difficult. Chief Columbus was merciless. He told our people that if they could not bring him oro, they would have to produce large bundles of spun or woven cotton. The demands were impossible to meet. As the oro became more sparse, Chief Columbus complained that he needed to pay tribute to his great king and queen across the sea. He crafted a plan to send our people across the great sea as slaves.
During the period of the second moon of the year , Chief Columbus captured and enslaved Tainos and Caribs. He calculated to send slaves across the great sea. Frightened at the prospects of the deadly journey, of the captured escaped. During the chaos of the escape many of our women left behind new born babies to die.
We learned that of the of our people sent as slaves across the sea, died during the journey. Half of the surviving hostages were gravely ill from the trip. The only positive outcome of this great disaster of this maiden voyage was that the great number of dead and sick dissuaded Chief Columbus from expanding this slave trade.
In the period of the 4th moon of the year , our great Chief Caonabo organized a rebellion of Tainos warriors to battle the sky men. Despite our superior numbers, our bow and arrows were no match for the magical weapons of the sky men. They had bows that could send pointed arrows many fields in length with deadly accuracy with a press of a button. More frightening, they had poles measuring an arm's length that made a tremendous noise and sent a stone that could kill men with one strike. From across the sea, they had brought terrifying beasts.
One such animal was 3 times larger than our deer. With their long legs, huge bodies, long tails, huge extended noses and massive eyes that could run 3 times faster than a man, these beasts were frightening in battle. Many of our men were crushed to death under the feet and bodies of these animals. The sky men also send demon hounds that ran 2 times faster than a man.
These hounds had razor sharp teeth which tore our skin and bodies to pieces. Our men were soundly defeated.
Columbus : the four voyages, (Book, ) [smashplex.com]
About Columbus He knew nothing of celestial navigation or of the existence of the Pacific Ocean. About Columbus From the author of the Magellan biography, Over the Edge of the World, a mesmerizing new account of the great explorer. Also by Laurence Bergreen. See all books by Laurence Bergreen. Inspired by Your Browsing History. Looking for More Great Reads? Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now. LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices. Read it Forward Read it first.
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