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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A looney expands the world13 Oct. 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
To my knowledge, this is the most rigorous biography of Columbus so far. It is basically an unknown story, since what they teach us in school is almost all of it lies and myths, for example that Queen Elizabeth sold her jewells to finance the first trip, or that everybody in Columbus' time believed the Earth was flat. By any standard, Columbus was a bit of a lunatic who probably also suffered from what todat we call bipolar disease (for example, he thought that God spoke to him directly). He seems to have been given to theatricality and emotional blackmail, but undoubtedly he was also very intelligent and a great navigator. He also had an urge for social climbing, and he longed for glory and fame more than for money. He was obsessed with finding a way to China, India and Japan by sailing West, which suited the Western European powers's commercial interests. As said before, in his time the great debate among learned people was not over the flatness or roundness of the Earth, but about its size. Columbus, by grossly underestimating it, became convinced that the voyage to Asia was within reach. Had there been no American continent, he would have been murdered or starved to death. But he was also a very courageous and brave man, and so he made possible what seemed impossible. He was a very bad politician, and his emotional diseases made him quarrel with soon former friends, which of course marred his leadership abilities. His life, very well written by Fernandez-Armesto, is a glorious, tragic and incredible epic which reads like the best adventure novels.