This is one of the most enthralling and all-encompassing biographies ever written about Christopher Columbus, the man who changed the course of world history with his voyages over the Atlantic Ocean.
Renowned history writer John S. C. Abbott takes the reader on a no-holds-barred-and remarkably objective-ride from Columbus's background and life, to his struggle in the courts of Portugal and Spain to gain acceptance for his radical idea of sailing west to reach the east-and the astonishing details of his four voyages to the New World and their aftermath.
Abbott spares no detail in highlighting the bravery, achievements, and staggering feats which paved the way for European colonization of the New World. But he also deals equally dispassionately with the less savory aspects which followed the Spanish settlements-such as the fact that most of Columbus's crews were criminals recruited only with the promise of pardons, the institution of slavery, and the resultant practical extermination of the Indians on the Caribbean Islands.
Throughout this breathtaking narrative, Abbott never loses touch with the human aspects of Columbus's life, and ends with an assessment which gives an indication of the struggles and tribulations faced by the simple man from Genoa: "His eventful life was, on the whole, one of the most joyless and full of trouble of which we have any record. That he had his faults all will admit. That those blemishes of character were redeemed by many and exalted virtues, few candid minds will deny."