Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Review: History Reader Alert: Ship Logs From Columbus/Magellan

A replica of the Santa María, Columbus’ flagsh...Image via WikipediaTo America and Around the World:

The logs of Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan

By Adolph Caso

I have learned one important fact about the books written and published by Adolph Caso--you always get more than you expected!  I was all prepared to read the original logs from Christopher Columbus and Magellan, only to open the book to find an extensive research effort reviewing the controversy in the media and by scholars regarding whether Columbus was indeed the first to reach the Americas...

And then the naming of America, written by Marco Giacomelli, was provided, and I found myself smiling after reading the documented essay to read, "The name America was, therefore, born by chance. Amerigo cannot be blamed for the fact that he was not in any related to this baptism." (p. 105)

You know, learning about history can be fun when it is presented in an honest, open way...and as it actually was first written!

To America and Around the World: The Logs of Christopher Columbus and of Ferdinand MagellanAnother thing I've learned when I get into one of Adolfo's books is that I find I want to discuss what I'm reading. Now I was as fascinated as you will be when you read the daily log that begins on Friday, 3rd of August:
We departed...in the year 1492, from the bar of Saltes, at 8 o'clock, and proceeded with a strong sea breeze until sunset, towards the south, for 60 miles, equal to 15 leagues; afterwards S.W. and W.S.W., which was the course for the Canaries. (p. 111)
The log is presented chronologically, with many details about weather, sailing, and concerns for the condition of the ship; e.g., the rudder of the Pinta caused problems as early as August 6th! An interesting part for me was their "reading" of the signs of approaching land; e.g., seeing birds or having grass or herbs floating on the water. But what was most exciting was the actual response of the crew members when the lands were finally being explored. Each site was proclaimed to be the most beautiful...until the next was seen. For many of us who have traveled into these same lands, we expected what we would see due to pictures--but imagine what it would have been like to be from Spain or Portugal and knowing it was the first time anybody had ever seen it from their homelands!

When people were found, "I saw and knew that these people are without any religion, not idolaters, but very gentle..."  but, however, they "believe and know that there is a God in heaven, and say that we have come from heaven..." (p. 150) Thus, through sign language and a beginning of talking, they began to barter, calling the individuals Indians because they still did not know they were discovering new lands!

It was on the 10th of August, 1519, when Magellan began his voyage. The story of this great event was maintained by Antonio Pigafetta and is written almost in the form of a novel, broken into three books. Many more details are included therefore and readers will see and realize what has happened during the last decade. While noting that no other explorers had been brave enough to set sail until five years after the return of Columbus, readers will see that there apparently has been much trade during the following years and that those native to the lands had become quite organized in their bartering and trading activities. Still, it was quite common for the trading to favor those on the ships who came with cheap glass necklaces, bells, and small mirrors, to receive gold or precious spices in return.

There is no way that you can read this book--the logs of Columbus and Magellan and not feel the excitement and wonder of exploring (and naming) everything and every place that they visited, meeting people that thought you were from heaven since they had never seen anybody like you, and knowing that you were the very first of your country to have seen what you had seen! Yes, History buffs, will want this for their permanent library; however, those who enjoy adventure stories just might find this book presents the biggest adventure they've ever read...and it's real! Cool, right? Highly recommended!

Book provided by

G. A. Bixler

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