Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.75 shipping
Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus Paperback – October 12, 1991
|New from||Used from|
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Pre-order today
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Morison, who won the Pulitzer Prize for this work, humanizes Columbus, who is fleshed out warts and all. Columbus is intensely religious, loyal, at times a bore, a peerless admiral and navigator, a so-so and at times poor administrator, courageous, brilliant and at times extremely hardheaded. He made mistakes, took slaves, died under appreciated, yet still completed four of the most important voyages in the history of mankind. He never gave up on the idea that he had actually discovered a new route to the orient, and never fully realized what he had actually found. He was double crossed by his own crew multiple times, faced mutinies, battled arthritis, and was actually led back to Spain in chains following his third voyage.
One of the things we struggle with understanding today is the fact that Columbus (and Magellan, along with many other explorers) had no idea where they were going. There were literally no maps at the time to show them what was on the other side of the ocean, or even if there was another side. It takes unbelievable courage to plunge headfirst off the edge of the map and most people now simply cannot understand what it took to face this complete uncertainty without hope of rescue while being responsible for the lives of the crew and property of the crown while doing it.
This is a terrific book, well researched and full of interesting details. Fans of true adventure, exploration, discovery, maps, world history and geography will love it.
I was amazed to find that Columbus truly felt that he had a divine commission and duty to voyage as he did, and much of the negativity I have heard from him now seems to be unsubstantiated attacks, completely ignoring the facts involved.
I respect the man more now than I did, and I think that people might find that much of what we hear about early discovery and colonialism in the Americas has been distorted and the negative attributed to people who do not deserve it.
As is the case with any great biography, Morison has become enamored with his subject, highlighting his strengths and successes while downplaying his weaknesses and failures, but you know that going into any biography and can adjust your interpretation accordingly.
The story here is told very well, keeping the reader engaged and turning pages. Additionally, the book dispells many of the myths and common misconceptions about Columbus and really fills in a complete picure of the man.
Well worth reading for any fan of history or biography.
Politician -- useless
Administrator -- dismal
Navigator and Seaman -- heroic
I tried to tackle this book in chunks, which made it much longer to read. But it gave me the time to really read it.
Morison set out to resail the Columbus voyages in 2 boats very similar in draft (if not tonnage) to what Columbus used. He pinpointed the bays, harbors, and landfalls as described in Columbus's journals (and the letters and journals of others who sailed with COlumbus), and as a result, the book is entirely credible on the sailing portions of the book. Morison's admiration for Columbus's feats of navigation seems boundless.
There is quite a lot of sailing terminology to absorb throughout the book, and it takes time. Morison has included excellent maps for each Voyage, as well as coastline maps that illustrate very well what Columbus accomplished.
The book makes clear that, while Columbus was a plain genius on the sea, in port was entirely another story. His attempts at administering New World colonies were disastrous (for natives and Spaniards, alike), and his efforts to win favor at Court first in Portugal and then in Spain were lame. Morison likens Columbus to the Biblical David trying to please Saul and always falling further into disfavor (p. 516).
The beginning of the book (about Columbus's origins and early years) addresses controversies about the man that I didn't even know existed. Morison essentially pooh-poohs rumors about Columbus's origins, effectively pins his family down in Genoa for several generations, and explains how Columbus became an ocean-going man and chart-maker. The book is convincing that Columbus is who he is.
Morison's style can be grating. At times, it was like having the M*A*S*H character Charles Emerson Winchester III read aloud some tedious part of his own diary. Bleah. You get the impression that Morison is one of those snobbish, ivory-tower academic elitists until you remember that this guy MADE THESE OCEAN CROSSINGS, which is not a wimpy undertaking. And then you read his perspective on America's coming war with the Axis powers (this book was done in 1939 and 1940), and it puts him in a more favorable light. For example, p. 493 has this (discussing the native Taino population of Hispaniola):
"The fate of this gentle and almost defenseless people offers a terrible example to Americans who fancy they will be allowed to live in peace by people overseas who covet what they have." [My note: if you are one of the people whose wealth is going to get "spread around" by new American policies, then this goes double for you.]
And this gem, when discussing Columbus's mishandling of the rebellion of some of his own men:
"The only way to handle tough fellows is to be a little tougher than they are."
This biography honors Columbus as a man of action, a heroic mariner, and an expert seaman. That is enough for me.