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Columbus in the Americas (Turning Points in…
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Columbus in the Americas (Turning Points in History, 4) (edição 2002)

por William Least Heat-Moon (Autor)

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885245,976 (3.33)5
A stirring tale of adventure and tragedy ""They brought balls of spun cotton and parrots and javelins and other little things that it would be tiresome to write down, and they gave everything for anything that was given to them. I was attentive and labored to find out if there was any gold."" With these portentous words, Christopher Columbus described one of his first encounters with Native Americans on the island of Guanahani, which he had named San Salvador and claimed for Spain the day before. In Columbus in the Americas, bestselling author William Least Heat-Moon reveals that Columbus's subsequent dealings with the cultures he encountered not only did considerable immediate harm, but also set the pattern of behavior for those who followed him. Based on the logbook of Columbus and numerous other firsthand accounts of his four voyages to the New World, this vividly detailed history also examines the strengths and weaknesses of Columbus as a navigator, explorer, and leader. It recounts dramatic events such as the destruction of Fortress Navidad, the very first European settlement in the New World; a pitched battle in northern Panama with the native Guaymi people; and an agonizing year Columbus and his men spent marooned on a narrow spit of land in southern Jamaica. Filled with stories of triumph and tragedy, courage and villainy, Columbus in the Americas offers a balanced yet unflinching portrait of the most famous and controversial explorer in history. TURNING POINTS features preeminent writers offering fresh, personal perspectives on the defining events of our time.… (mais)
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When I studied the founding of America in school many, many years ago, Columbus was the hero-explorer that we put on a pedestal as the person who discovered North America. Today I wonder why we ever thought that since there was already a thriving population of indigenous people who certainly were here first and had a well developed culture. In the long-run we now see that the first Europeans did more harm than good. I picked up Columbus in the Americas written by William Least Heat Moon in an effort to see what is thought about this man today.

The author opens his book with a claim that he is trying to remain with the facts that are known and that he feels that eventually the popular myths about Columbus will fade. No, he did not discover America, but he did open it, for better and, certainly for the indigenous people, for worse. The original voyage in 1492 was launched with an objective of finding a trade route to China and although he failed at that, this voyage was an incredible feat of sailing as the expedition was plagued by tricky winds that impeded forward progress and his ships soon were in bad shape and needed repairs. By far the most difficult task was keeping the crews spirits up, they were sailing into unknown waters and had no idea of what they were going to find, little realizing they were about to enter a new world, not just of the Americas, but a new world of concepts, commodities, and politics.

The people of these newly discovered lands were considered child-like and Columbus was dedicated to converting these natives to his Catholic faith. In truth, these natives had their own language and religion. They grew crops of corn, tubers, cassava, and peppers. They fished and caught crabs, they spun and wove cotton, made decorative pottery and ornaments of shell and bone. Columbus disregarded their culture and instead, felt that these people should become servants or even slaves. Unfortunately the guilelessness and generosity of the natives aroused brutality and greed among the Europeans and eventually led to genocides that decimated the natives that the newcomers felt were in their way. And of course any sight of gold was enough to trigger the worst attributes of the conquerors.

Eventually other countries sent their own expeditions to various locations and the fate of the indigenous peoples of North America was set. Today we know that Columbus wasn’t the first European to set foot in the new world that honor goes to Leif Erickson. Also Columbus didn’t really come in peace, he came for gold and profit. He and his men left behind violence and disease when they left after that first voyage. He went on to make four more voyages to the New World each time ruthlessly searching for gold.

Our thoughts about Christopher Columbus has undergone a change in recent years. Some feel that statues of Columbus should be removed and the many cities, rivers and other landmarks that carry his name should be changed. Whereas to some he was an intrepid explorer, to others he was a ruthless monster, trading in enslaved people. The story of Columbus has undergone many revisions over the years and it seems that today’s record is actually more balanced between his qualities as an explorer and shame at his crimes against Indigenous peoples. Although I suspect there are better books about Columbus, I do commend William Least Heat Moon for writing a factual and unemotional account of his voyages and showing Columbus very much a product of his time. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jun 7, 2021 |
Gave up awfully early for three reasons.  1. don't remember how it got on my list as I'm not particularly interested in history 2. I thought a reference to 'ultima thule' (Iceland)" interesting until I looked it up and found no consensus that the reference is to Iceland but is considered equally likely to be Greenland or Norway... and the author provides only acknowledgements, no bibliography or notes, and 3. the writing style is off-putting: "... his absolute stubborness against admitting any evidence that might overturn his deep urge to find a westward sea route..."."
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
Autore acuto, sui generis, grande viaggiatore Heat Moon, il cui nome è la traduzione inglese dell'espressione "lingua del calore" nella lingua pellerossa, ci offre un punto di vista interessante sulla più grande scoperta geografica nella storia dell'uomo. Heat Moon è di origini pellerossa, ha lasciato l'insegnamento e la moglie per iniziare a viaggiare su un furgone e a scrivere dei suoi itinerari sulle strade americane.
In questo interessante volume, analizza la scoperta di Colombo non come unica navigazione e impresa nel Nuovo Continente, ma guardandola nel suo complesso, negli scopi effettivi e nelle conseguenze.
Il disegno alla base della missione era naturalmente la creazione di colonie commerciali, così nel corso delle tre spedizioni il grande navigatore genovese manifesta quell'intransigenza nei confronti dei nativi che avrebbe presto portato agli stermini cruenti, alla violenza e alla logica perversa della schiavitù. ( )
  cometahalley | Jan 1, 2014 |
This is a very nice, gracefully written, concise (180-page) re-telling of Columbus's four voyages to the New World; it would make an excellent addition to high school libraries or general public libraries. Maps could be better, but they're serviceable.

Heat-Moon admires Columbus's skills as a navigator and a more-or-less truthful chronicler, but of course doesn't spare his brutality to Native Americans, which included introducing slavery to the Americans (by bringing some Native Americans back to Spain). For adult readers, there really isn't too much news here. Who doesn't know of Columbus's sins by now?

I think that most adults picking up this book are looking for much more but I guess it's a good refresher, a prime book to take along on a Caribbean vacation. I had forgotten that the Santa Maria had to be abandoned on the first voyage and that Columbus returned from the third voyage as a prisoner. The bibliography is slim, to say the least, but the books named there would probably be more suitable for an adult library. (As H-M notes, these books will introduce much bigger bibliographies.) First of all is Samuel Eliot Morison's decades-old Columbus bio.Then there are some of Columbus's diaries and David Stannard's American Holocaust.

Finally, and what I would read next, is the account by Columbus's contemporary, the priest Bartolome de las Casas' History of the Indies. What we know of Columbus' lost journal of his first voyage comes from a partial transcript and notes taken by de las Casas. De las Casas was critical of Columbus's treatment of the Native Americans, as was Queen Isabella: she viewed slavery as a mortal sin. This is interesting since, as anyone familiar with the history of slavery knows, slaves had a better status in Catholic countries, especially Spanish ones, than in the colonies and Protestant countries, such as Britain, Netherlands and Denmark. ( It is hard for me to believe their status was good in French ones, though.) ( )
  Periodista | Jul 16, 2011 |
I'm sure the facts are right. It was interesting but I've enjoyed other books on Columbus more. I would love to be able to travel through time to watch some of the "gone before" especially knowing what we know now. Comparing my emotions about being there and the emotions of those doing the "first time" stuff would be worth writing about. ( )
  gmillar | Apr 6, 2007 |
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A stirring tale of adventure and tragedy ""They brought balls of spun cotton and parrots and javelins and other little things that it would be tiresome to write down, and they gave everything for anything that was given to them. I was attentive and labored to find out if there was any gold."" With these portentous words, Christopher Columbus described one of his first encounters with Native Americans on the island of Guanahani, which he had named San Salvador and claimed for Spain the day before. In Columbus in the Americas, bestselling author William Least Heat-Moon reveals that Columbus's subsequent dealings with the cultures he encountered not only did considerable immediate harm, but also set the pattern of behavior for those who followed him. Based on the logbook of Columbus and numerous other firsthand accounts of his four voyages to the New World, this vividly detailed history also examines the strengths and weaknesses of Columbus as a navigator, explorer, and leader. It recounts dramatic events such as the destruction of Fortress Navidad, the very first European settlement in the New World; a pitched battle in northern Panama with the native Guaymi people; and an agonizing year Columbus and his men spent marooned on a narrow spit of land in southern Jamaica. Filled with stories of triumph and tragedy, courage and villainy, Columbus in the Americas offers a balanced yet unflinching portrait of the most famous and controversial explorer in history. TURNING POINTS features preeminent writers offering fresh, personal perspectives on the defining events of our time.

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