I was intrigued by this strange chronicle when i lifted it from the dusty shelf of my local bookstore. I had never heard of it and I was surprised that such a thing even existed. A first-hand account of a 16th century conquistador expedition to the new lands of the Americas no less!
The book is short enough to hold the attention and the fact that it is a true tale holds the attention through periods of drab text and detailed descriptions of the lay of the land. In fact, two distinct points capture the attention, firstly the matter-of-fact way in which cabeza de vaca views the monstrosities he is faced with, from shipwreck to torture and hunger. Secondly, the altogether human way in which the natives are protrayed; they are not seen as unthinking savages but as children, scared and uncertain, that need to be cared for. This is certainly not the tale of a gross escapade to conquer primitive peoples, rather it is an 'expedition' in every respect and it is fascinating as a result.
At times it is a chore to plough through, but i believe the overall and lasting impression that the book leaves is a sufficient reward for the time spent on it.
And, hang on a minute, doesn't the name of the author mean 'head of the cow'? How strange....