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Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Last Voyage of Columbus: Being the Epic Tale of the Great Captain's Fourth Expedition, Including Accounts of Mutiny, Shipwreck, and Discovery by Martin Dugard

"He chose to live a bold life rather than settle for mediocrity"

Published by Back Bay Books in 2006.

"The only certainty about Columbus is that, for better or worse, he chose to live a bold life rather than settle for mediocrity." (p. 268)

That is how Dugard ends a lively and informative biography of Christopher Columbus. As the title indicates, Dugard focuses on the fourth voyage of Columbus and its successes and mishaps. In order to properly place this voyage in its correct context, he uses the first half of the book to give the reader a fairly comprehensive biography of Columbus, as well as a thorough look at the politics of the day and other voyages of exploration, especially those of the Spanish and Portuguese.

Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)
Columbus has been a whipping boy for the politically correct crowd for decades now. Dugard does a solid job of putting Columbus's actions in their proper context without becoming an apologist for his actions. Dugard is unabashedly admiring of Columbus's skills as a navigator and his bravery, but he's quite critical of his abilities as a colonial administrator. His narrative would be a wonderful movie except for two things: #1) Columbus is still radioactively politically incorrect; #2) No one would believe it.

It is a fascinating story and I highly recommend this read. However, I cannot give it 5 stars because Dugard does the unthinkable for a writer of any history - he fails to provide any sort of footnotes or endnotes. None. He does provide an extensive bibliography, but that is not good enough. I require my high school students to provide footnotes or endnotes. Dugard should do the same thing.

This book is found on Amazon.com here: The Last Voyage of Columbus.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

Reviewed on August 31, 2007.

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