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Columbus: The Four Voyages by Laurence…

Columbus: The Four Voyages (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Laurence Bergreen (Author)

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278540,656 (3.92)6
Title:Columbus: The Four Voyages
Authors:Laurence Bergreen (Author)
Info:Viking Penguin (2011), Edition: 1st, 423 pages
Collections:Your library

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Columbus: The Four Voyages by Laurence Bergreen (2011)



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Columbus the Four Voyages is an incredibly intriguing book and presents information to the reader that is often neglected in a typical history class. Laurence Bergreen does an amazing job at explaining all four of Columbus's voyages to the new world (thought to be India) as well as the steps it took for him to get there. By presenting information directly from Columbus's journal, as well as from his supporters and rivals, Bergreen gives an unbiased account of the European experience in a new and hostile world. I strongly recommend reading this book to anyone interested in furthering their knowledge of Columbus and European exploration. ( )
  Lerrold | Mar 21, 2014 |
Excellent account of Columbus's adventures. His explorations were much more interesting than anything you may have learned in school. ( )
  addunn3 | May 16, 2013 |
Sadly, I cannot recommend this book to others. While it does have it's good points, there is a lack of editing that leaves the narrative at times rather mashed up. For example, a paragraph ends with Columbus heading toward Jamaica from the Cuba coast. In the next two paragraphs the narrative continues with Columbus cruising along the Cuban coast, then in the next paragraph Columbus is arriving in Jamaica. If this was just an isolated instance this would be acceptable, but it happens too often. It just makes the book a chore to read. ( )
  jztemple | Mar 20, 2013 |
Just about everyone knows something about Columbus and his discovery of the Americans while trying to find a route to China and then thought he'd found India. This was only the beginning because he traveled three more times. This new biography explores the routes and the consequences on humans, cultures, and ecosystems. I really suggest this book if you are interested in history. ( )
  Lakenvelder | Feb 23, 2013 |
Laurence Bergreen has made a habit of crafting well-told modern historical narratives about some of history’s greatest explorers. Bergreen went world-wide with an exploration of the great world navigator himself, Ferdinand Magellen in "Over the Edge of the World". Then he took readers East to follow Marco Polo on his travels in "Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu". And now Bergreen comes closer to home as he travels from Spain to the New World with Christopher Columbus in "Columbus: The Four Voyages".

All of these books synthesize a wealth of contemporary sources and modern references to build out something more than just 'the story' of discovery. Bergreen constructs a view into their exploits through historic and modern lenses that ultimately shines a broad beam of light across the entirety of their adventures.

Moving from Marco Polo to Christopher Columbus is not such a long leap for Bergreen. Columbus carried a well-worn copy of Polo's "Travels" during all his journeys and used it as guidebook in his own search for a route west: from Europe to the Indies and to see the Great Khan in China, then known as Cathay. Marco Polo was a 15th Century Frommer, apparently. Unfortunately, what Columbus had no way of knowing was that "...two oceans and two centuries separated..." Columbus from his target, wrote Bergreen.

Bergreen paints Columbus in a rainbow of personality traits. He was the brave, god-fearing (and preaching), navigational genius that traditional history remembers and teaches us as children. And at the same time he was confused, lost, indecisive and downright delusional. He single-handedly expanded an empire, while at the same time ignited a slave trade across both sides of the Atlantic.

Christopher Columbus is a complicated individual. Bergreen uses a myriad of sources to put flesh on the bone of the great American discoverer, but I still find it difficult to pin him down. Columbus wrote extensively of his four trips in his own journals. His son, Ferdinand, wrote a biography. Neither of which one could consider completely unbiased, of course. The great Bartolome del las Casas who would fight vigorously for the rights of the indigenous people of the Americas wrote about Columbus's voyages. While blasting him for making religious excuses to justify his treatment of the natives, he clearly respected his spirit and accomplishments.

Bergreen wrote that Columbus "was more than a discoverer, he was an intensifier of both his voyages and his inner struggles. This penchant for self-dramatization is part of the reason Columbus's exploits are so memorable; he insisted on making them so."

Columbus was a creation of the time period in which he lived. He saw the world and his explorations through his very medieval perspective. While Slavery wasn't completely accepted within Europe, it certainly existed in Columbus' home of Genoa. Religion was an important part of everyday life. Columbus was even referred to as a "priest of exploration". And there's no better example of the dichotomy of who Columbus was than to understand that, according to his son, he "was so pious that he could be mistaken for a man of the cloth. And a real rarity among sailors was his strict personal policy to never swear." While at the same time he clearly didn't let religion get in the way of some of the awful things the Spaniards did to various Caribbean natives under his watch.

"Somewhere at the confluence of Ptolemy's flawed cartography, the legends of antiquity, Marco Polo's account, and sailor anecdotes lay clues of a great prize waiting to be discovered." Columbus never truly gave up on his search for Marco Polo's Cathay and gold. He adjusted. He modified his trips, as circumstances forced. He kept hunting for gold, and when he couldn't find enough, he focused on colonization, expansion and conversion.

In about 400 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, "...he could not, nor could anyone else, have imagined...the long-term implications of this voyage. 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." ( )
1 vote JGolomb | Oct 7, 2011 |
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(Proligue) "I sailed to the West southwest, and we took more water aboard than at any other time on the voyage," wrote Christopher Columbus in his logbook on Thursday, October 11, 1492, on the verge of the defining moment of discovery.
On Friday morning, October 12, Columbus ventured ashore, followed by the Pinzon brothers: Martin Alonzo, Pinta's captain, and Vicente Yanez, Nina's captain.
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A Look Inside Columbus: The Four Voyages
(Click on Images to Enlarge)

Description: Engraving of Christopher Columbus offering his services to King John (João) II of Portugal before winning the backing of Spain.

Description: World map, c1489, of Henricus Martellus. A similar map is believed to have influenced Columbus’s ideas about his first voyage.

Description: Woodcut from 1493 of Native Americans fleeing in fear of Columbus as he sets foot on the Bahama island “Guanahani.”

Description: A 1493 woodcut accompanying Columbus’s “Letter on the First Voyage,” illustrating his arrival in the Indies.

Description: World map, 1500, of Juan de la Cosa, cartographer and navigator on Christopher Columbus's second voyage of 1493-94.

Description: The first page of Columbus’s 1492 manuscript The Book of Privileges.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:58 -0400)

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 this book the author re-creates each of these adventures as well as the historical background of Columbus's celebrated, controversial career.… (more)

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