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Columbus Hardcover – October 10, 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0192158987 ISBN-10: 0192158988 Edition: New edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; New edition edition (October 10, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192158988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192158987
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,366,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA-- A well-documented, scholarly, and concise biography. Fernandez cuts through all the legends and speculations that have evolved about Columbus to the unadorned facts about this elusive man within the context of his 15th-century world. He reconstructs the explorer through a study of his character using the navigator's own words as a basis for the narrative. Readers will admire his development of geographical ideas, marvel in the description of his voyages, and sympathize with his disastrous career as an administrator. Excellent illustrations, annotated maps, notes, and a chronology provide difficult-to-find historical documentation. This challenging book would be well used by students in gifted or advanced placement cources in European or American history, world history, or anthropology.
- Dolores M. Steinhauer, Thomas Jefferson Sci-Tech, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Tart, well-researched, critical biography by Fernandez-Armesto (The Spanish Armada, 1988, etc.). There's not much affinity between writer and subject here. It's as if to Fernandez-Armesto the achievements of autodidact Columbus are simply not acceptable: ``...characteristic intellectual shortcomings of the self-educated...always made silly or risible errors.'' Columbus, the author tells us, was of ordinary lineage and could be coy about his background; sometimes he even lied. When the underqualified Columbus finally gets his backing, the author allows that he might be ``even perhaps charismatic.'' But Fernandez-Armesto never lets him off the hook, even at the end of his last voyage (and career and life): ``As always in adversity, the old syndrome flowed forth from Columbus's distraught brain....'' When Columbus gives credit to God for his learning, the statement is scrutinized suspiciously--even though it was an age when man gave God a lot of credit. Allowed to speak, Columbus's flowery phrases breathe life into the arid, quarrelsome text: ``Throughout this time I have seen and studied books of every sort- -geography, history, chronicles, philosophy and other arts--whereby our Lord opened my understanding with His manifest hand to the fact that it was practicable to sail from here to the Indies.'' What's missing here is any sense of Columbus as a complete man, a devout adventurer, the leader who still had time for books, who came out of a weaver's shop to teach himself navigation and astronomy. There's not much feeling for those wild times, either, when everyone misbehaved with such unacademic abandon. Lots of trees, no forest. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Guillermo Maynez on October 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
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.
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