The Last Voyage of Columbus: Being the Epic Tale of the Great Captain's Fourth Expedition, Including Accounts of Mutiny, Shipwreck, and Discovery Paperback – 8 May 2006
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About the Author
Martin Dugard is the "New York Times "bestselling author of several books of history. He and his wife live in Southern California with their three sons.
Top Customer Reviews
The intricacies of and internal battles that are never taught at school are all documented here
I never knew Columbus used the old eclipse trick to threaten natives with impending doom How lucky is that to have one when you need it most.
The books pre-amble lasts about 100 pages before the nitty gritty begins but as most people know who he was , it could have been shorter great book though
The title speaks for itself for the synopsis
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Yes, so we all know the general outline of the 1492 story. And we know some vague details that Columbus never found the western route to the orient. But Dugard brings this to life and puts in fascinating details about life at sea, the struggles Columbus and the crew faced, and just what really did happen to bring an end to Columbus' great career.
Dugard's writing style is fantastic as is his approach. He doesn't try to mis-apply 20th (or 21st) century morality onto Columbus' actions, he's good at interpreting Columbus behavior in the right temporal light. He doesn't seek to justify or crucify Columbus, just to tell a great adventure story. The best fiction writers would have a hard time beating the twists of fate, politics, action, and tension of this real life drama.
I also found this book especially interesting having recently read James Reston's excellent "Dogs of God." Dogs of God sets the stage very nicely to better understand Spain's politcal and religious climate at the time as well as the events leading up to Columbus' first voyage.
Having read this, I'm anxious to read some of Dugard's other writing, possibly his "Surviving the Toughest Race on Earth" next.
The second part of the work, from the beginning of Columbus's fourth voyage to the end of the book, is great. It is a highly engrossing read with short chapters that practically drag the reader from chapter to chapter just to see what happens next. However, the first section of the book is not like this at all. Though the chapters are of similar length the opening meanders through the events that led up to Columbus's fourth voyage. I found myself somewhat confused by the large cast of characters both important and not. Though Dugard does provide some interesting overviews of Columbus's nature and his relationship with Queen Isabella of Spain.
The worst shortcoming of the book though is its lack of citations. Often I found myself asking "Where did he dig that up?" Unfortunately, Dugard only provides a selected bibliography, while extensive; it does not point the reader to a direct source for some of his more interesting comments and sentences. While historians I'm sure would rip Dugard a new one for this lapse I can forgive as the general subject matter and crisp narrative make for a very good read.
But what makes this book worth reading is what it really deals with, and that when a man's dreams come true they are not always what he expected nor what he wanted in the first place (or thought he did). Columbus wanted to sail west, discover a way to the Orient, make himself a fortune, be showered with lands medals and titles and leave a great legacy for his children and posterity.
Because of his political naivete, what he got was short term acclaim, then humiliation and banishment, the smugness and pettiness of syncophants and courtiers, privation and deprivation, and lastly he almost lost credit for discovering the "New World" to a man (Amerigo Vespucci) who might never have actually commanded a ship of discovery. Keep in mind that the two continents are called America not Columbia (or Colonia, or Colomboia).
Dugard does a marvellous job of bringing out the personalities of all the people involved, from Ferdinand (miser and ingrate) and Isabella (friend and admirer), to his schizophrenic crews (who could never make up their minds on whose side they were on), the indigenous people (some who fought him and others that saved him from starvation); to the man himself who thought that he was protected by God, and never lost his belief in the miraculous help of prayer.
Multiple, life-threatening mutinies. Imprisonment, with chains. Loss of all titles and properties. Shipwrecked for a year. And yet Columbus bounced back after each calamity.
Martin Dugard briefly reviews the life of Columbus, the Spanish politics of the time, and his first three voyages, along with voyages to the New World of his competitors. The fourth voyage begins with Columbus determined to find the missing passage to India. Of course, he doesn't find it, and he loses all four ships, and a quarter of his crew. This is the latter half of this book.
Dugard writes well, and I felt engaged throughout. Columbus WAS larger, and more influential, that I had expected. I realize he wasn't a saint (as if there were ANY during that period of human history), but he certainly wasn't the worst of the New World explorers.
This is a great book for seventh graders and above.
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