Ernle Bradford, the author of THE GREAT SIEGE and popular biographies of Nelson, Hannibal and Drake turns his attention to one of the greatest, and most misguided, explorers the world has ever known.
Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, the son of a weaver and trained in the trade. He started sailing for business at a young age, learned navigation by studying the methods of his captains and became highly skilled at a difficult and challenging task. He also heard stories that gave him a revolutionary idea—reach the Indies (India, China, Japan) by sailing west instead of east.
Having been shipwrecked and then settled in Portugal, he married well and used family influence to propose his idea to the King of Portugal, who turned him down. He moved to Spain and pursued the same course with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who made him wait five years to settle a war then gave him three small ships and enormous authority as Viceroy of any lands he discovered and Admiral of the Seas.
He set sail and sailed and sailed and sailed, long past the point where his crew believed they would survive the voyage, before stumbling on one of the islands of the Caribbean. He went from one to another, always convinced that the wealth of the east was just past the next point. He established a colony, returned to Spain and once again promised more than he could deliver to get support for another expedition.
He returned to discover that his colony had been wiped out but started another. He exploited the natives, started a slave trade with Spain and alienated many who had befriended and supported him. He trusted only family and close associates and managed poorly both people and assets. An investigation sent him home in chains. He set out on a final, truly disastrous voyage, lost most of his ships, and returned again to Spain unaware of the stupendous discoveries he had made and of the revolution in the future of the world that his exploration had precipitated.
Bradford portrays Columbus’s genius, stubbornness, greed and stupidity mixed with bravery and masterly navigation skills. A great book gives us a true and balanced portrait of a great man who changed the world.
For a complete list of Bradford biographies and histories published by E-Reads, visit his author page.