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Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem Hardcover – September 20, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
Sure, he wanted to find a route to "the Indies." But to understand why Columbus is one of the premier explorers in history, one has to understand his religious faith, and how it was formed by the catastrophes and hopes of the 15th Century.
Columbus believed - he was hardly alone in this - that if he could find a new route to the East, he'd also find the gold that Marco Polo claimed to see in Asia two centuries earlier. The gold, then, would give Columbus the money to finance yet another crusade -50,000 soldiers might do the job - to seize Jerusalem from Muslims. A Jerusalem in Christian hands, so his thinking went, would set the stage for the Second Coming of the Messiah, the Last Days prophesied in the Bible.
Marco Polo had also reported that the Grand Khan of the Asians was much interested in Christianity. For Columbus, this meant the possible conversion of the Grand Khan and all his people to Christianity. Then, the quest to take Jerusalem could include a two-pronged attack: European soldiers on one flank, the Grand Khan's army on the other.
Author Carol Delaney, a professional anthropologist who has taught at both Stanford and Brown, has taken the religious motivations of Columbus and come up with a unique and well-written narrative with appeal to both academic and general readers.
She starts with the most well-known part of the Columbus story: That he found a financial sponsor in Queen Isabella who saw in him a chance to expand the Spanish Empire.
Columbus wasn't trying to prove the world was round. Educated people in Europe knew that, even if his illiterate deckhands did not.Read more ›
That isn't all about the most famous discoverer that we will discover in Delaney's twentieth-century masterpiece. In this book we find an academic analysis of the explorer's origins, environment, his own religious ambitions, followed by the role of his passions in the preparation, and duration, of his voyages - and the scandals that stained his name afterwards.
All in all, this is a most enjoyable book. Though not completely consistent, it is well structured, with remarkably helpful notes at the back. It is rather deep in some parts, and might be difficult for one without much knowledge of that time and scenario, or one who begins reading from the middle of the book. And for those who do appreciate this academic victory, it must be noted that some of the conclusions drawn in the book, or their hypothesis, or a lack thereof, might not always appeal - but the information it adds is a treasure for today's historian. Columbus comes to life mare than half a millennium after his death in a new perspective of this hero's life.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent summary with great detail showing a much fuller picture of the times and how the man was wrong about the size of the earth, but he was not wrong about navigation nor in... Read morePublished on January 1, 2014 by Juliette Parsick
Researched well. Written in an east to read, conversational tone. New facts that set aside speculation about the man who changed history.
Good read if you enjoy history. Read more
Easy to read narrative with emphasis on the religious context and motivations of the time. Fascinating. Well done. I recommend it.Published on September 27, 2013 by Allen T. Gilliland III
This is a wonderful book that I thoroughly enjoyed. It gave me a completely new appreciation for Columbus. Read morePublished on March 15, 2012 by Donald Jackson
I must stop reading this book ..... I'm 97 pages into it....to express how much I am enjoying it. Very readable and crammed with facts intelligently interpreted by a professional... Read morePublished on February 18, 2012 by S. Pursell
An anthropologist of Turkey writes a book about Columbus. A change of subject? Actually, not! In this book, Delaney weaves together strands of culture and history that other... Read morePublished on February 3, 2012 by Diane E. King