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Christopher Columbus based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
It was a little easier to write the story of Christopher Columbus in the 1940's, when Samuel Eliot Morison came out with his 'Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus' (in 2- and 1-volume editions). In 'Christopher Columbus, Mariner', published in 1955, he returned to his favorite mariner, writing this shorter account. The writing is old-fashioned in the best sense, vibrant and lyrical and sometimes soaring. A sailor himself, he retraced much of Columbus' routes, including an Atlantic crossing by sail (during World War II !), and the book has the smell of the sea in it and a love of sailing (as well as sailing jargon that should have resulted in a glossary at the end of the book to help us landlubbers). Morison is a hero-worshipper, and that was easier to be in his more romantic and less questioning time. Not that he hides Columbus' faults: the mistakes he made, the personality flaws, his weakness as an administrator, his sometimes overzealous religiosity, and above all his depredations against the Indians (though he could be kind too, sometimes). But the overall tone of the book has to be called too glamorizing. Nonetheless, the man comes alive here, and you will admire his accomplishment in the end. As Morison puts it, 'This was the most spectacular and most far-reaching geographical discovery in recorded human history.' And especially interesting is Morison's account of how hard it was for Columbus to get backing for what in retrospect was the most logical expedition in history, and then how relatively little reward and thanks for his voyages he got in the end (indeed, he caught some grief). Also, how comically clueless Columbus remained about what exactly it was he had discovered. (It wasn't China or Japan.) And praise must be given to the many superb and detailed maps. Just a little sketchy, because of the shortness, and a bit old-fashioned, but highly recommended.