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Imagine this: You have a theory that boldly contradicts something that everyone else believes to be true. You believe that you can reach the East by sailing west. You believe that your theory is correct, but if it proves to be wrong, it will bring you humiliation, financial ruin, and possibly death.
Your name is Christopher Columbus, and when most explorers are sailing parallel to the coastline on their expeditions, hugging the shore as closely as possible, you set out at a direct right angle to the shore, straight out into the unknown.
Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451, the oldest of five children. He had little schooling, so he did not learn to read or write as a young boy.
But he did love to study maps and he did love the sea. He vowed that as soon as he was old enough, he would go to sea.
In his early teens he became a sailor and traveled to Greece and Portugal. While in Portugal, he studied the works and maps of ancient and modern geographers until he had taught himself all he could learn about navigation and mapmaking. The more he learned, the more convinced he became that the Atlantic Ocean was not populated by sea monsters and could be mastered.
He also became fascinated by Marco Polo's accounts of his journey to Asia and all the riches he had found there, but Columbus believed that the quickest and most direct route to the East was by sailing westward across the unknown waters that were called the Sea of Darkness.
His objective was not to prove the earth was round, for by the end of the fifteenth century, most educated people knew the earth was a sphere. His primary objective was to find a more direct route to the riches and rare spices of the East.
He asked King John II of Portugal to finance his expedition, but after consulting with his advisers, the king denied his request.
After King John II refused to finance his expedition, Columbus asked King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. After several requests, they finally agreed to finance his voyage.
The Spanish rulers gave him three ships and paid for ninety crewmen and supplies. The ships were quite small by modern standards—no longer than a tennis court and less than thirty feet wide.
In 1492 Columbus and his crew set out, but once they were out of sight of land, his men grew fearful, so Columbus devised a false set of charts to show the crew so they wouldn't know how far they were actually going.
In spite of the false set of charts, after thirty-four days at sea, his men became increasingly restless and began to threaten mutiny. Columbus convinced his crew to wait three more days, and the very next day they saw tree branches floating in the water and realized that land was close.
When they went ashore on October 12, 1492, Columbus proclaimed the land part of Spain and declared its inhabitants to be Spanish subjects.
Columbus was puzzled by the "easterners" who were dark-skinned and wore little clothing. He called them "Indians" because he thought he was in India, but they were not as Marco Polo had described them. Nor did he find any "cities of gold" or any "pagodas with golden roofs."
He named the island San Salvador and then explored the islands farther south still in search of gold (what is now Cuba and the surrounding islands).
In 1493 he left some of his crew in the New World to build a small colony while he and the rest of his crew returned to Spain. Unlike the trip over, the return trip was very rough with turbulent weather, but Columbus did manage to make it back to Spain.
The natives and parrots he brought back with him were living proof of his accomplishment. The widely published report of his voyage made him famous throughout Europe, secured for him the title of Admiral of the Ocean Sea, and led to three subsequent expeditions to the Caribbean.
Horses were introduced to the New World by Columbus on his second voyage.
Women were not on either the first or second voyage, but he was allowed to recruit one woman for every ten emigrants on the third voyage.
Even though Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand made him Viceroy of any new lands he discovered and awarded him ten percent of any new wealth, his own administrative failings trying to govern the new territories led to disappointment and political obscurity in his final years.
Columbus was fifty-one years old and fairly sickly when he set out on his fourth and final voyage on May 11, 1502, with four aging ships and 150 men. Anxious to restore his good name, he was still determined to find the link between the Indies and the Indian Ocean. He arrived at Santo Domingo on June 29, 1502, but was refused entry into the harbor.
Besieged by storms and headwinds, the ships managed to work their way down the coast to what is now Panama. Some gold was found in this area, so the explorers set up a trading post. This venture was short-lived, however, as the native Indians grew unfriendly and forced the Spaniards to flee.
Exploration of these new regions was fraught with problems. Columbus was sick, the food was rotten, and the ships were worm-infested and leaking. And conditions only got worse. While anchored off Jamaica in 1504, supplies were running low, and the Jamaican Indians refused to sell him any more food. Consulting his almanac, Columbus noticed that a lunar eclipse was due a few days later. On the appointed day, he summoned the Jamaican leaders and warned them that he would blot out the moon that very evening if his demands for food were not promptly met. The Jamaicans only laughed at him until later that night when the eclipse began. As the moon disappeared before their eyes, they returned to Columbus in a state of terror, whereupon he agreed to stop his magic in exchange for food. The offer was accepted and the moon was "restored."
After being stranded in Jamaica for more than a year, Columbus finally managed to make it home to Spain on November 7, 1504, officially ending Columbus's last and most memorable voyage.
In spite of the fact that the Spanish crown retracted some of his privileges, Columbus was still a relatively rich man at the time of his death on May 20, 1506, and did not die a pauper as some people believe.
His discoveries changed the course of history. While he did not find the extraordinary cities of gold he had been seeking, his monumental exploits helped Spain enjoy a Golden Age until the end of the seventeenth century when England, France, and the Netherlands successfully challenged her power.
Columbus was the first European to navigate an Atlantic crossing from the Old World to the New World by setting course directly out into the ocean's vast, uncharted waters rather than hugging the shoreline.
During his voyages he traveled to the islands of the Caribbean Sea and explored the northeastern tip of South America and the eastern coast of Central America. He never did set foot on North American soil, but he did make it as far north as Cuba, only ninety miles from Florida.
He never abandoned the belief that he had reached Asia, and he went to his grave without ever realizing that he had explored and colonized two vast new continents.
Although the Vikings had set up temporary colonies in Greenland and Newfoundland around 1000 CE, the voyages of Columbus marked the beginning of the permanent European colonization of the Americas.
After five centuries, Columbus still remains one of the most famous, but also one of the most controversial, figures in history. He has been criticized for his exploitation of the native inhabitants and the destruction of their cultures, but he has also been praised as an explorer who played a key role in helping to spread European civilization across a significant portion of the earth. He has been described as one of the greatest mariners of all time, a visionary genius, a national hero, an unsuccessful entrepreneur, and a ruthless and greedy imperialist obsessed with his quest for gold and power.
But, regardless of how you feel about him, I think we can all agree that few events have altered the course of history as dramatically as his colonization of the Americas. He was a man of vision and courage in the face of uncertainty.
Excerpted from They stood alone! by Sandra McLeod Humphrey Copyright © 2011 by Sandra McLeod Humphrey. Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Author's Note 9
Christopher Columbus 11
Leonardo da Vinci 17
Nicolaus Copernicus 23
Galileo Galilei 29
Isaac Newton 35
Elizabeth Cady Stanton 41
Henry David Thoreau 47
Harriet Tubman 53
Clara Barton 59
Elizabeth Blackwell 65
Nikola Tesla 71
Booker T. Washington 77
Marie Curie 83
Mahatma Gandhi 89
Orville Wright 95
Albert Einstein 101
Amelia Earhart 107
Margaret Mead 113
Marian Anderson 119
Margaret Bourke-White 125
Rachel Carson 131
Mother Teresa 137
Rosa Parks 143
Jackie Robinson 149
Neil Armstrong 155
A Final Thought 161
The Road Not Taken 163
Posted November 22, 2011
Reviewed by Lori M for Readers Favorite
What a fabulous book! In "They Stood Alone: 25 Men and Women Who Made A Difference," author Sandra McLeod Humphrey presents people who started out ordinary but accomplished extraordinary things. She explains in the beginning that she chose these particular men and women based on select criteria such as having courage to step up away from popular belief, having the confidence to believe in themselves, having the vision to see things from a different perspective, and for providing breakthroughs that changed our world.
Included among the 25 men and women who made a difference are some names you'll recognize like Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, and Christopher Columbus, and perhaps some that you won't, like Nikola Tesla, Marian Anderson, and Rachel Carson.
This book was delightful. It presented each man or woman, included an image of them, explained why they were bold and courageous, and provided facts, figures and information about each. Oh how I wish that this book had existed when I was in Middle School social studies class! The writing style is warm and easy to read. The content is just enough without being too much. The information provided is interesting and thought-provoking. It in in short just an all-around great read.
Even as a middle-aged adult, I learned so much about some of our ancestors who sacrificed much and were bold enough to pursue their dreams. I think that I might look for some biographies for some of these people for additional reading.
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Posted October 25, 2011
Hats off to Sandra McLeod Humphrey for synthesizing the lives of famous people in a book that can be enjoyed and stimulate the minds of her intended audience of 9 to 12 year olds. In her introduction she states the reasons for her choices of role models: 'They were people of vision who saw life form a different or a new perspective; they were pioneers of a sort who were willing to question the conventional wisdom of their time; they had the courage to step out away from the crowd and take a risk; they believed in themselves and pursued their dreams i spite of societal opposition; and their revolutionary breakthroughs changed their world and ours.' What follows is a series of minibiographies of 25 men and women who fill the qualifications Humphrey has established. Each biography begins with a photograph (or other image) of the person, a quote form them, and then the information begins with 'Imagine this:' and what follows is a brief setting of the background of the person presented and a superb brief description of the discovery or change that person made for the world. All of this is offered in a very readable and erudite manner, fit not only for younger readers but for any reader at all! The people she discusses are Christopher Columbus, Leonardo da Vinci, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Henry David Thoreau, Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Elizabeth Blackwell, Nikola Testa, Booker T. Washington, Marie Curie, Mahatma Gandhi, Orville Wright, Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, Margaret Mead, Marian Anderson, Margaret Bourke-White, Rachel Carson, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and Neil Armstrong. And after this excellent survey of just some of the important minds of our history and our time Humphrey address the reader with the challenge to believe in yourself and to overcome obstacles to follow your dream. Included at the end of the book is an excellent bibliography - surely a fine resource for all teachers - and a source of her notes. And as a final gesture she has re-printed the Robert Frost poem 'The Road Not Taken.' This is a terrific book, as strong a 'behavior modification' substitute for aimless youngsters who think they have nothing to offer the world as anything published. Parents may want to borrow this book to refresh their memories about the Heroes lives, too..... Grady Harp
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Posted August 8, 2013
Posted September 24, 2012
From Christopher Columbus to Margaret Meade, from Cady Stanton to Jackie Robinson, They Stood Alone! By Sandra McLeod Humphrey shares, in a few pages each, the stories of twenty-five men and women. People from the past, and people from the present who chose a path that forced them to move out, away from the crowd. Men and women who chose to stand alone against the beliefs and expectations of their culture or times. They all became people who changed their world and ours.
Each chapter begins “Imagine this… Your name is…” following is the story of one of twenty-five real-life heroes and heroines any of which anyone would be glad to have their child trust as a strong role model. Taken from the pages of science, sociology, sports, and adventure, these stories will provide insight to children, teachers, and parents.
The last chapter is an inspiration to today’s youth to discover and develop their passion, to have the courage to follow their hearts, to follow their dreams, to step out onto a path, away from the crowd, to stand alone and change their world.
Sandra McLeod Humphrey provides notes for each piece taking readers to broader pictures and a bibliography to expand the stories she has told, and stories yet to be told. Readers will need to get copies of this book that won the Mom’s Choice Award, for each child in their classrooms, for each child in their home, or for each grandchild they love. A retired clinical psychologist, Humphrey has written other books focused on moral education for children including Hot Issues, Cool Choices, If You Had to Choose, What Would You Do? and Dare to Dream!
Posted September 24, 2012
MY THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK
This is a book that everyone needs to read! Author Sandra Humphrey has written about 25 men and women who made a major difference in our world. These are ordinary people doing extraordinary things that made a huge different in our lives today. Some of these I have heard of, but some I hadn’t, so I thoroughly enjoyed reading this informative book. I was especially delighted to find Booker T. Washington included because his home place is just miles from my house. I really didn’t know anything about Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and it was interesting to find out that she had much to do with the equality of women. We also learn about more awesome people from Christopher Columbus to Neil Armstrong, with important and interesting information about each.
This is an easy book to read, the chapters being short and can be read in a few minutes. Sandra has included a picture of each person, with their date of birth and the date they passed away. And she writes each of their stories in an interesting way that captures your attention, making you want to keep reading.
I highly recommend this book for your reading enjoyment. This is especially a great book for school age children. Pick up your copy today.
This book was provided by the author for me to read and review. I was not expected or required to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.
Posted August 12, 2012
What an amazing job Sandra did in researching the material she used to portray the lives of these individuals! WOW! This is a very impressive account and yet very light reading. Points often left out of the history books of these individuals were brought to light...some of the individuals were never in the history books. The author has written the accounts very clearly and interestingly.
I won this wonderful book in a giveaway and highly recommend it to all people of all ages. This is a great book for Book Club discussions.
Posted August 6, 2012
Book Review by Deirdre Tolhurst
They Stood Alone
25 Men and Women Who Made a Difference
by Sandra McLeod Humphrey
I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed this book! Ms Humphrey has captured my attention to history that no one else has done in years. I was never a big history fan in school, perhaps because the biographies we had to read were not written like this!
In condensed but flavorful detail, Ms Humphrey has given me biographical information I either never knew or had long since forgotten. I don’t think I ever knew that Christopher Columbus was allowed to recruit one woman for every ten emigrants on his third voyage, or that Harriet Tubman made nineteen trips to the South and led 300 slaves to freedom without ever losing one, or that Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree from a medical school in America. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe I ever heard of Elizabeth Blackwell!
The stories in this book are small enough to read one at a time when time is at a premium. Each biography is only approximately five pages long, so for just a few minutes I was able to sit, read, and learn. What an enjoyment! Since none of the biographies are related to any other one, it was easy to close the book until next time.
Each story is written with a zeal for the uniqueness of each individual represented. I honestly think every ‘tween’ should read this book. It is very inspiring how these now famous people came from such different backgrounds, faced incredible odds, and made a difference in the world. I don’t know where we would be without people who continue to follow their dreams despite (or in spite of) the odds.
Everyone will like this book. Ms Humphrey wrote this book in a way that is not only easy to read, but doesn’t insult anyone with its simplicity. It is not demanding on your time, it is incredibly interesting, and wonderfully written. I give this book 5 stars!
Deirdre Tolhurst, Author, A Christmas I Remember, ISBN 978-1-61346-422-9.
Posted August 6, 2012
While this book is marketed toward young adults, I feel it's ideal for readers from 8 to 100. We're treated to the condensed stories of 25 people who challenged themselves and society in order to follow their dreams and make a difference in our world. The vignettes perfectly capture each person's life, giving us enough information to understand their experiences without overwhelming - or boring - us with facts. I found this a fascinating, educational, and inspirational read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 25, 2012
My Review: Author Sandra Humphrey introduces us to 25 extraordinary men and women who broke with tradition to explore new ideas and challenge accepted truths.
It’s so great to read about how these men and women from Christopher Columbus who prevailed over all obstacles and distraction and was able to spread European civilization across a significant portion of the earth to the Queen of the Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman who became an abolitionist, a humanitarian and a Union spy. They all made unique contributions that not only change but shaped the course of history.
Read about Leonardo da Vinci, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Henry David Thoreau, Clara Barton, Elizabeth Blackwell, Nikola Testa, Booker T. Washington, Marie Curie, Mahatma Gandhi, Orville Wright, Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, Margaret Mead, Marian Anderson, Margaret Bourke-White, Rachel Carson, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and Neil Armstrong.
This book will inspire men and women, boys and girls to have their own dreams and to always follow their heart till they attain their dream and make a different. The layout and writing is simple and easy to read. I highly recommend this book for adults and children and for classroom teaching.
Disclaimer: As per FTC guidelines, I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation. All opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone.
Posted December 16, 2011
They Stood Alone is a recipient of the prestigious Mom's Choice Award. The Mom's Choice Awards honors excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others. A sampling of the panel members includes: Dr. Twila C. Liggett, ten-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of PBS's Reading Rainbow; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, and New York Times best-selling Author; LeAnn Thieman, motivational speaker and coauthor of seven Chicken Soup For The Soul books. Parents and educators look for the Mom's Choice Awards seal in selecting quality materials and products for children and families.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.