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I didn't realize that this little book was published by the National Park Service until coming to the end, where there is a section of brief descriptions and photos of a few of our national parks named after early explorers. These include deSoto National Memorial in Florida, Coronado National Memorial in Arizona, Pecos National Historical Park in New Mexico, and Cabrillo National Monument in California. The first part of the book is a synopsis of the explorations of these conquistadores, all from Spain, who searched the New World for riches, in particular, gold. What they encountered were Native Americans, some friendly, some ferocious. Although the Spaniards suffered physically through hardships of difficult terrain, shortage of food, and battles with natives, they also inflicted injustices on the native peoples. This book offers a brief but important understanding of the history behind the names of places we often take for granted. It is the history of the U.S. before the English arrived and created the colonies. The Spanish were here first, and as maps show in this book, traversed much of the land. Unfortunately for the Spanish, they were disheartened about the lack of gold, and did not pursue its other natural resources. How different the U.S. might have been if they had not given up. This little publication deserves a 5 for fulfilling its purpose of bringing awareness to the history that created these national parks. It can serve as a springboard for other research, as well as create interest in including these sites in one's vacation plans.
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