Customer Reviews: Columbus: His Enterprise: Exploding the Myth
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on September 25, 2000
This is a book that attempts to set the record straight on Columbus the man and the chain of events set off by his voyage of discovery. Koning does not delight in debunking the myth, nor does he gloat in the exose'; rather the tone is one of moral despair over the actual facts. Essentially the Christian Spaniards slaughtered and enslaved as they plundered the New World. Convinced he had found the fabled way to Cathay ahead of the rival Portuguese, Columbus appears every bit the avaricious social climber of his era. Skilled and daring, he was also venal and petty. Koning's portrait is not a pretty one, but then we've had enough of those.
Koning takes the revered Samuel Eliot Morrison to task for his sanitized portrait of the Great Explorer. Most reprehensive, in Koning's view, is Morrison's utter disregard for the death and destruction left in Columbus's wake and to which he was a party. Seemingly, Morrison's brand of biographical myopia represents a particularly deadly brand of Western ideology at work, one that cleans up the official record on behalf of the powers that be.
Perhaps most praiseworthy in Koning's tratment are the succinct moral parallels he draws between the civilizing forces of Spain in the New World and their 20th century American counterparts in Vietnam, where additional tens of thousands were slaughtered resisting Western conquest. A book like this exposes unmistakably the self-serving mythology that surrounds so much of our official history. Such versions are not misleading by accident, instead they work to a purpose and there seems no better word for describing that purpose than ideological. They are distortions that preserve current institutions of power; namely, those political and economic arrangements that also happen to be products of Columbus's bloody wake. It's interesting to speculate the direction our polity would take were Koning's book, rather than the traditional sanitized versions, required reading in the nation's high schools. Be that as it may, don't expect to see Koning in a Columbus Day parade any time soon.
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on January 1, 2010
Excellent book and well written, though very short. Impossible to put down once you begin reading. I recommend, however, reading other Columbus books to give yourself a more balanced view. This book is very subjective and highly opinionated. All content is anti-Columbus. The book contains many details you'll never find in other history books or public school texts in America. After reading, you'll hunger for more information.
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on November 22, 2013
If you want to know what kind of a man Columbus was get this book. It is loaded with information that you never received in school. We still celebrate Columbus Day...but this book makes you ask why glorify this explorer. So when that time of the year arrives where we pay tribute to are able to see his crimes and see how he isn't the kind of person you would want to exemplify.
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on April 9, 2000
Koning gives a very valid speculation on Columbus' life and voyages. Thoughout the years, the story of Columbus has been twisted and glamourized, making the people of America believe that he was a hero. Koning goes in to great detail when explaining the truths behind all these mythological ideals. It is an easy read as well as a very good piece of writing.
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on June 28, 2013
My American history teacher would not approve of this book, but it sets the record straight. Columbus' expeditions were not gloriously high minded adventures. He was not a hero. The author's writing style is excellent and drives the account forward.
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on August 15, 2015
I purchased a new book but I received a used book. I am not happy with this because I paid for a new book not a used one.
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