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Columbus: The Four Voyages

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  501 ratings  ·  83 reviews
From the author of the Magellan biography, Over the Edge of the World, a mesmerizing new account of the great explorer.

Christopher Columbus's 1492 voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a trading route to China, and his unexpected landfall in the Americas, is a watershed event in world history. Yet Columbus made three more voyages within the span of only a decade,
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Hardcover, 423 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by Viking Adult
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,473)
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James Thane
Laurence Bergreen has provided in this book an exhaustive account of the four voyages made by Christopher Columbus to the New World. He demonstrates the great challenges that Columbus faced, both from the magnitude of the task that he assumed and from the scores of people he managed to alienate along the way. Bergreen also describes the enormous consequences that are still playing out today as a result of the initial contact between the "Old" World and the "New."

As everyone knows, Columbus has
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Shawn
I read Laurence Bergreen’s “Over the Edge of the World-Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe” years ago. I looked forward to this author’s book on “The Great Discoverer”. Bergreen is a first rate historian and a compelling writer. He seems to have found a niche in delivering early maritime history epics and the early explorers of the New World are rich with drama. I like the Christopher Columbus that Laurence Bergreen has portrayed and feel that it is an accurate presentation of th ...more
Jason Golomb
Laurence Bergreen has made a habit of crafting well-told modern historical narratives about some of history’s greatest explorers. Bergreen went world-wide with an exploration of the great world navigator himself, Ferdinand Magellen in "Over the Edge of the World". Then he took readers East to follow Marco Polo on his travels in "Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu". And now Bergreen comes closer to home as he travels from Spain to the New World with Christopher Columbus in "Columbus: The Four Voya ...more
Jason
I had no idea that Columbus had four voyages after discovering America so I knew I had to read this book when I came across it. It sounded too interesting to pass up.

The pacing of the book was a bit too slow for me but I found the locales and history engaging. I've spent a fair amount of time island-hopping around the Caribbean so I was intrigued to learn the history of some of the places I've been to.

I was appalled by how often Columbus and his merry men took advantage of the local Indian peopl
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Lisa
Bergreen has written about the four voyages of Columbus in a manner that is accessible to the non-nautical history buff. There are several maps of the voyages and three photo insert sections with pictures of contemporary maps, paintings of some of the key figures, and illustrations from historical texts. It is obvious that a lot of research about Columbus and his voyages went into this work. However, the telling of the information often seemed to take place in a back and forth motion through tim ...more
Ryan
Really sort of poor. Rife with small mistakes and inconsistencies that are distracting even if you're not looking out for them. There was hardly any analysis or even synthesis of different sources; he really just told me a story, and I couldn't help but think that I'd have gotten more out of it if I'd just read Las Casas and Columbus's letters.

In fairness, I realize after finishing this that the author is a biographer, not a historian (even a popular historian), and if I'm going to read a book b
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John
Columbus shipwrecked his flagship “Santa Maria” on a sandbar just off the Island of Hispaniola and the country that is now Haiti. On subsequent voyages Columbus just named whatever ship he captained the “Santa Maria.” I don’t think I ever knew he actually made 4 voyages. The book was good but a little too detailed for me.

Several pages were dedicated to the fascinating “Columbian Exchange” first identified by Alfred Crosby, a professor at the University of Texas in 1972. It discussed and listed a
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Steele Dimmock
This book delivers in giving the reader a real taste of what Columbus' voyages were like. I also left with an interesting impression of Columbus, the man. As fallible, greedy, manipulative and filled with pride as any of his contemporaries.

Interesting points
* 3 brothers were on the first voyage, with two Captains of the Pinta and Nina and the other the owner of the Santa Maria.
* Columbus thought he was in China or Japan, to meet the great khan from Marco Polo's writings of 200 years previous
* T
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Paul Lunger
"In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue" is a phrase we learn as school children when first learn the story of Christopher Columbus the man credited with discovering the New World. For whatever rights or wrongs Columbus did his tale of discovery across 4 voyages between 1492 & 1503 are noteworthy no matter what. It is this time period & these trips that are the subject of Laurence Bergreen's "Columbus: The Four Voyages". In great detail & with significant historical accu ...more
Linda
Prior to reading Mr. Bergreen's book, my knowledge of Christopher Columbus was sketchy, and my opinion of him generally negative. I came away from it with a greater understanding and even admiration for Columbus as a navigator and explorer. The book is easy to read, and well worth the effort to understand this exceptional person and his lasting effect on our world.
David
Columbus is little more than low hanging fruit for historians with a post-colonial bias.

Mr. Bergreen is filled with not so much a hostility for Europe and Europeans so much as a contempt for them. The Four Voyages falls into that group of histories which might best be called revisionist.

Mr. Bergreen does not fictionalize the life and actions of Columbus so much as exaggerate the negatives, of which there are many, and downplays the positives. What a reader of European descent feels after readi
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Richie
I have read a handful of books on Columbus. Including his travel narratives. What I really enjoyed about this book is that the author was able to offer valuable insight to the reader as far as what may have been going on during the journal passages. Very informative.
Don
Jan 17, 2015 Don rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: history, own
This is certainly a well-researched and interesting book. But the writing is rushed and weakly edited. There are so many instances of convoluted sentences that it gets downright confusing.

The author maintains the focus on the four voyages, just as the title suggests, which serves to give us lots of detail (and, yes, repetition), but little depth in political perspective and insight of the time.

I have read other books about Columbus, but this is unique (for me) because it offers such detail of th
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Brian Lee
Fairly good. If you are a history buff this is a nice book to have in your collection. However, I loved Bergreen's Over The Edge Of The World and would recommend that book over both this and his Marco Polo bio.
Joanna
I've always been fascinated by the Age of Discovery, the distances these ships sailed with their current technology. I imagine what it would be like to see a sliver of land rise up from the horizon without knowing what environment and people you would encounter next. I was very impressed with the research this author conducted to compile the story, and I definitely learned to see the "other side" of what we are normally taught about Columbus in school. What was so striking to me was Columbus's r ...more
Elizabeth
This history of Columbus's four voyages is fascinating and readable. It gives the reader both the European and native view (as much as it can) of these events. The Europeans had no idea where they were or who the inhabitants were. Based on sign language, Columbus believed he was welcomed. Of course they had no way to communicate.

My impression is like that of a science fiction movie where aliens come in ships, rape the women, enslave and kill the inhabitants. The story from the point of view of
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Kevin Kazokas
This is a detailed, almost league-by-league nonfiction depiction of Columbus's four voyages, based primarily on the historical documentation of some of Columbus's closest but not unbiased observers, including his son Ferdinand and the explorer's harshest critic, Bartolome' de Las Casas --their accounts compressed, vetted and refracted through author Laurence Bergreen's prism into a 368-page somewhat wandering portrayal of the enigmatic discoverer's life.
The New York Times described this as "a fi
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Jerry Crispino
I did not know that Columbus made four (4) voyages! The politics of the Spanish Court were just like today! Backstabbing and betrayal.
Jeff
It was OK. Seemed a bit choppy. Over the Edge of the World is much better written.
Joe
This is a must read for any History student, old or new. I outlines the political storms that Columbus had to weather as rivals who played with the attitudes of the Monarchy and the Church as to Christopher Columbus. They continually tried to cultivate a belief that was a dreamer, an unschooled risk taker and an undisciplined sailor who did not work toward the advantage of Spain and the Monarchy. Columbus overcame jealousy, greed, insurrection, barbarism, egotism, religion, political intrigues a ...more
tea_for_two
I thought I knew a lot about Columbus. I took several classes on European expansion in school and I know I've read at least most of Columbus's diary of his first voyage, so I was surprised by how little I knew about his subsequent voyages, especially the fourth trip. This isn't a revisionist history, but nor is it entirely harsh. Bergreen walks a fine line and depicts both Columbus the brilliant navigator and the European discoverer of a new world (even if he never understood what he had found) ...more
Mick
In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue, but as Laurence Bergreen demonstrates in this lengthy history, Columbus: The Four Voyages, that was only the beginning of the story. Christopher Columbus, a Genoan sailor in the service of the Spanish monarchs Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, made three further voyages to the New World after his famous discovery of the island of Hispaniola in 1492.

In four voyages, between 1492 and 1504, Columbus discovered new worlds and saw things undrea
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Ed Terrell
Wonderfully well written book of all four of Columbus' voyages filled with nitty-gritty details from firsthand accounts. It took Columbus 33 days to make the first voyage from Canary Islands to the Americas, and forever the new and old worlds would be inexorably intertwined. As Bergreen accounts "He created history as he went, as if time and place were two aspects of the same entity that he chased for 12 years, guided by Marco Polo, inspired by the bible, and driven by his lust for gold." Columb ...more
David Kopec
Enjoyable Read Flawed by Poor Editing and Lack of Polish

Bergreen takes an interesting and promising approach by closely framing his biography around first hand accounts (mainly Columbus's own) of The Admiral's famed voyages of discovery. This provides for steady pacing, an appropriate level of detail (what was important to first hand observers is probably important to us), and the ability to understand some of Columbus's experience through his own eyes.

Unfortunately, the entire work is marred by
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Michael Harrel
This is a very fascinating book. The author takes you on all four of Columbus' voyages and gives a great amount of detail into the traumatic life of the great explorer. That being said, the author does suffer from that predilection, seemingly endemic among modern historians, to judge the past by the present. For instance, the author repeatedly and condescendingly asserts that Columbus "refused" to consider that his new discovery was in fact a new world and not merely the coastline of China, whic ...more
Zachary Marciano
The inherent slue of controversy that follows the name Columbus like a ghost only serves as boon to Laurence Bergreen's rendition of the Columbus voyages, implementing heavy handed politically implied opinions along with serious in depth factual premises for the actions taken by both Columbus and his hardy crew. Out of all the things I have ever heard or read about Columbus's voyages, this book was by far the most insightful and informative, really communicating all aspects of the journey. Incor ...more
Sandy
An interesting subject about whom most basic students know one fact--1492. Bergreen chronicles all four of Columbus' trips to the Americas and reveals a lot of information about the explorer, his limited navigational skills, his personality, his family, the discoveries of each of his cruises and the bizarre competition that emerged between and among Christopher and his ersatz explorers. In fact, the book contains so many details, that the telling of the tale would have benefitted from a good edi ...more
Drew
Bergreen's account of Columbus' four voyages is insightful in clarifying many of the myths and legends have become the legacy of the Genoese explorer. A very straight-forward, almost play-by-play of the four voyages. Bergreen tells us what happened, as reported by Columbus' son and one of his largest detractors, but not a whole lot more. While enjoyable and enlightening, I don't necessarily have a great insight into who exactly Columbus was, something Bergreen tries to explore. Good read, not gr ...more
Jarrod
I had no idea how many voyages Columbus went on prior to even seeing this book. I picked it up on a major discount at a book store and it was a steal. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the tale of Columbus and his navigational exploits. I find it humorous that he never knew he found a new world, but insisted that it was in fact Asia.

This book is probably much closer to 4.5 stars than 4, but I cannot give five. It is obviously well-researched and written, but at times a little dry. There is all kinds
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Tim Hodges
Very thorough, well-written and engaging. I learned many new things about Columbus. For one thing, he had mad skills as a navigator -- he didn't really know where he was, but he knew how to get there. He was a pretty awful leader, and he suffered mightily for it, but what he did is still amazing.
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Laurence Bergreen is an award-winning biographer, historian, and chronicler of exploration. His books have been translated into over 20 languages worldwide. In October 2007, Alfred A. Knopf published Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu, a groundbreaking biography of the iconic traveler. Warner Brothers is developing a feature film based on this book starring Matt Damon and written by William Monahan ...more
More about Laurence Bergreen...
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