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A Land So Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca (2007)

– tekijä: Andrés Reséndez

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
279571,609 (3.83)10
The extraordinary tale of a shipwrecked Spaniard who walked across America in the sixteenth century In 1527, a mission set out from Spain to colonize Florida. But the expedition went horribly wrong: delayed by a hurricane and knocked off course by a colossal error of navigation, the mission quickly became a desperate journey of survival. Of the three hundred men who had embarked, only four survived--three Spaniards and an African slave. This tiny band endured a horrific march through Florida, a harrowing raft passage across the Louisiana coast, and years of enslavement in the American Southwest. They journeyed for almost ten years in search of the Pacific Ocean that would guide them home, seeing lands, peoples, plants, and animals that no outsider had before. In this enthralling tale of four castaways wandering in an unknown land, Andrés Reséndez brings to life the vast, dynamic world of North America just a few years before European settlers would transform it forever.… (lisätietoja)
  1. 10
    Cabeza de Vaca's Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America (tekijä: ÁLVAR NÚÑEZ CABEZA DE VACA) (eromsted)
    eromsted: A translation of the original account by Cabeza de Vaca which forms the basis for this book.
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näyttää 5/5
Fair outline of the epic journey. For details, several of the references provided would need to be read. ( )
  reddean | Jan 26, 2021 |
This story concerns Cabeza de Vaca, one of the earliest, if also inadvertent, explorers of North America and the southern United States from Tampa, Fl. to the Pacific Ocean. While many of the conquistadors' tales are simply amazing, this one has to stand at the top. Unfortunately because Cabeza and 3 other survivors failed at their intended quest and learned a bit about humility and compassion, their tale hasn't survived to the modern popular conscience, at least in America.

This is a narrative history of de Vaca and his era. It is not the actual "La relación of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca" that de Vaca wrote or his secretary's "Comentarios". Those books are old and available on the free book sites on the internet in the original Spanish. For this book, the author retells the narrative with enlightening discussions on various aspects of the tale. At least half the book is Notes or Bibliography, which I found valuable. The Bibliography also recommends various English translations. One advantage of this history over the actual transcripts is that Resendez provides valuable context and a higher perspective.

I knocked it half a star due to occasional misspellings and typos. Not frequent, but scattered throughout the book. The binding is also poor: one signature isn't glued or sewn properly and so it protrudes when the book is opened. Maps are relevant and placed conveniently near corresponding material. Illustrations sometimes contribute; sometimes they seem gratuitous. ( )
  Hae-Yu | Jun 11, 2016 |
As the saying goes, the truth is stranger than fiction. This account of an early Spanish explorer is so surreal that it is hard to believe. Even stranger still is that this story is relatively unknown in the English speaking world. Why this epic hasn't been made into a major movie, I can't say.

In summary, Cabeza de Vaca is part of a colonization expedition to Florida that goes horribly wrong. Stranded there, the conquistadores raft from Florida to Texas, but most die along the way. Cabeza de Vaca and 3 others manage to survive through adapting to different native cultures, first as slaves, then as shamanistic healers. After wandering from along the coast of Texas and Mexico, and then walking through the continent to the Pacific Ocean (!), they eventually meet up with Spanish slavers after 6 years. Cabeza de Vaca returned to Spain and wrote a record of his journey.

His is an amazing story on its own, but of equal intrigue are the tantalizing details of the many Native groups he and the 3 other castaways encountered. Some of the groups that Cabeza de Vaca encoutered disappeared almost immediately after contact from either disease or enslavement. His historic record is one of the only glimpses we will ever have of some of these peoples.

Resendez retells Cabeza de Vaca's tale based on his and other historic records, as well as providing some context around the larger political machinations occuring at the time. For example, Cabeza de Vaca's ill fated journey was an indirect result of Cortes' conquest of Mexico and the rivalry of conquistadores.
Fascinating story and well compiled and presented by Resendez. I would recommend to anyone who is interested in the early history and conquest of North America. ( )
  ParadigmTree | Sep 12, 2013 |
This is why I browse, no number of trips to Amazon would have landed me here. A western books catalog that I think I discovered while in Idaho (93-94) brought this to my attention.

_A Land So Strange_ is a vivid account of a bit of history that I did not know. Starting in 1528, the 300 survivors of a wrecked expedition walked from present-day Tampa Bay to Apalachee Bay, where the Panhandle starts, then rafted to the Texas coast. In Texas the natives enslaved the helpless explorers for several years. Eventually four of them, three royal servants and a Moroccan slave, were able to escape and keep walking... to the Pacific Coast of Mexico!!! They then struck south, and encountered a group of Spanish Calvary on a slaving mission near Culiacan, Mexico. In 1536.

As the castaways headed west from Texas their reputation preceded them, and they became known as great healers of the sick. They did posses some knowledge, and performed a couple of successful operations. Mainly, however,they relied on the sign of the cross and their faith. By the end of their disastrous tour of the new (to them) continent, they were convinced they truly on a mission from God.

The Moroccan was killed by natives while acting as a scout for a later expedition to Northern Mexico. The two other lieutenants settled in Mexico and lived the rest of their days as landed gentry.

Cabeza de Vaca, who started out as the expedition's Treasury Secretary, was most affected. Once reunited with his countrymen, he traveled back to Spain to urge the King to take a more humanitarian course with his future subjects. Failing this, he sought and was granted his own expedition, to modern day Rio de Plata, in South American Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina.

He attempted a more enlightened approach but failed. The natives in the Rio de Plata region balked at his attempted forced conversions. His fellow conquistadors, lacking his humanitarian insights, demanded their due and eventually had their leader sent back to Spain in chains, humiliated.

A fascinating look at North America in the early 1500s, and insight into the growth of a man of faith, and his eventual fall. Highly recommended. ( )
  kcshankd | Apr 5, 2012 |
History written with intelligence and flair! A real page turner, about a small group of Spaniards who got stranded in Florida and who made their way (on foot) to Mexico - it took them 9 years!. Pick up a few good tips about survival - just in case you ever find yourself in similar circumstances. yes there is life without 911, GPS and a cell phone
  chessiesays | Feb 3, 2008 |
näyttää 5/5
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (1)

The extraordinary tale of a shipwrecked Spaniard who walked across America in the sixteenth century In 1527, a mission set out from Spain to colonize Florida. But the expedition went horribly wrong: delayed by a hurricane and knocked off course by a colossal error of navigation, the mission quickly became a desperate journey of survival. Of the three hundred men who had embarked, only four survived--three Spaniards and an African slave. This tiny band endured a horrific march through Florida, a harrowing raft passage across the Louisiana coast, and years of enslavement in the American Southwest. They journeyed for almost ten years in search of the Pacific Ocean that would guide them home, seeing lands, peoples, plants, and animals that no outsider had before. In this enthralling tale of four castaways wandering in an unknown land, Andrés Reséndez brings to life the vast, dynamic world of North America just a few years before European settlers would transform it forever.

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