Children's LiteratureBefore Columbus sailed the wrong way to India, European nations were unaware that two more continents stood between them and China. For several years after Columbus' voyages, most people still didn't realize that North and South America were not simply islands to the east of China. Continued exploration soon brought to light the fact that the America's were different continents and opened up new opportunities for European nations, and the downfall of many old and culturally rich civilizations in the Americas. Beginning with Columbus's expedition to find a route to India and China, and ending with Cortez' exploration and conquest of Mexico, the authors present a brief, yet encompassing look at the explorers and expeditions that opened the New World to colonization by European countries. Brief biographies of several explorers are presented, and while the point of view is European in nature, the authors document the treatment of native peoples at the hands of the explorers, including the extinction of many cultures and the extreme decline of native populations after European colonization began. The text is fully illustrated with full-color maps, current pictures of the areas explored, and period reproductions of explorers. Words in bold throughout the text are defined in the glossary; also included are an index, additional sources to consult, and a time line of important events during the period covered. Part of the "Exploring the Americas" series. 2004, Raintree, Ages 8 to 12.