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"An excellent book, lively and well written, and likely to appeal to a wider audience than the typical academic monograph."--William D. Phillips, Jr., author of The Worlds of Christopher Columbus
Sinking Columbus describes and analyzes the failure of the 1992 commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's voyage from Spain to the New World, once "universally" hailed as the "discovery of America." Despite this failure, the book recognizes the Quincentenary as an important and illuminating event in the recent political and cultural history of the United States, Europe, and Latin America.
The authors draw upon their personal experiences as both organizers and observers of the celebration to explain how and why, in a few short years, the Columbian myth was transformed from a romantic, Eurocentric tradition into a postmodern, multicultural critique of New World history.
The book reviews the U.S. Jubilee Commission, the failed Chicago World's Fair, ethnic controversies in the United States, and various international efforts (especially in Spain, Italy, and Latin America) to commemorate an anniversary whose meaning changed drastically from the time initial planning began until the year it finally took place.
Chronologically, the book ranges over the cultural history of the past century as well as the past decade. Geographically it focuses on the United States, Spain, Italy, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. Ultimately, an underlying theme emerges--that the failure of the official Quincentenary is offset by the fact that the anniversary provoked and encouraged a healthy, widespread discussion of major issues such as colonialism, ethnicity, diversity, and the place of indigenous peoples in contemporary societies.
Stephen J. Summerhill, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Ohio State University, has written scholarly articles on Miguel de Unamuno, Maria Zambrano, Luis Cernuda, and other Spanish authors.
John Alexander Williams, director of the Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee Commission from 1986 to 1988, is professor of history at Appalachian State University. This is his fourth book.