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Columbus: The Four Voyages

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  704 Ratings  ·  107 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,
Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Published (first published September 1st 2011)
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James Thane
Nov 10, 2011 James Thane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 19, 2014 Shawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 25, 2013 Ryan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dan Gobble
What Columbus did personally to the natives in the Americas and unleashed on them in the name of Christ in the form of unabated colonialism is criminal. Murder, torture, enslavement, rape, lie after lie, deceptions, taking advantage of their innocence, unfair trade deals (hawks bells and glass beads for gold!!!), and on and on. How can one hold such diametrically opposed ideas of Christ, on the one hand, which should include kindness, love, patience, self-control, humility, etc., to the brutal o ...more
Dec 14, 2011 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Christopher Fox
Jan 30, 2016 Christopher Fox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful chronological narrative of a little-known explorer. I say "little-known" because although everyone in the English speaking world knows the rhyme about "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue" and credits him with discovering the New World, almost nothing else is general knowledge about the extent of his voyages, his personality, his navigational skills, his leadership style, the politics surrounding his life and work, his brother and son, etc., etc. There is much to be told and Berg ...more
Nov 20, 2015 Kenneth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the first one hundred pages we meet Columbus, learn of his early years, learn about his world- Genoa and Europe in the 15th century and see his first voyage detailed. I would say that Bregreen wastes no time here. Columbus is not so sketchy after all as there are quite a few of his letters, and his associates letters still around. We know a lot more about Columbus than I had previously thought. Because of his records and letters, and the letters and records of his brothers and sons, we have a ...more
Apr 07, 2015 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Paul Lunger
Feb 16, 2014 Paul Lunger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Mar 12, 2012 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, history
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.
Lewis Smith
Apr 15, 2016 Lewis Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Christopher Columbus - heroic bearer of the light of civilization and Christianity to a world lost in darkness?
Christopher Columbus - genocidal egomaniac who raped and plundered a virgin continent and sold its people to slavery and destruction?

Or . . . something in between the two?

Columbus is one of the most celebrated and vilified men of history, and also one of the least understood. Bergreen's new biography separates the man from the myth, showing a Columbus who was neither an enlightened geni
Joel Mitchell
Jan 16, 2016 Joel Mitchell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most people know that Columbus was some Italian guy sailing for Spain who accidentally discovered the New World in his attempt to find a sea route to the Indies. In this book, Bergreen paints a much fuller picture of the man, drawn from primary sources (including Columbus's journals, his son's biography of him, and the writings of Las Casas who was his greatest detractor during his lifetime). The portrait that emerges is that of a genius navigator and incompetent governor driven by mystic zeal, ...more
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
Brian Kenneth Swain
Just completed the Bergreen biography of Columbus as further background research for Outrun the Devil, my in-progress Columbian historical novel. The book is a solid one, detailing all four of Columbus's voyages to the "Indies," which he was perpetually convinced were some version of China or India. Of course, back in 1492 no one knew that if you wanted to sail west from Spain and hit Japan or China, there was the small matter of North, South, and Central America that would be in your way. Berge ...more
May 20, 2012 Richie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 17, 2015 Don rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Brian Durfee
Sep 30, 2011 Brian Durfee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 18, 2015 Joanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Dec 23, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jerry Crispino
Oct 06, 2012 Jerry Crispino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not know that Columbus made four (4) voyages! The politics of the Spanish Court were just like today! Backstabbing and betrayal.
Jul 04, 2012 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was OK. Seemed a bit choppy. Over the Edge of the World is much better written.
Aug 22, 2016 Jerome rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A rich, thorough if not particularly compelling history of Columbus’s career as an explorer. Bergreen clearly describes the man’s discoveries, while skimming over the rest of his life, although this isn’t a huge problem since it’s not as well documented anyway. Bergreen’s points are all clear and the narrative moves along at a good pace. Bergreen does a great job fleshing out Columbus’ personality: courageous, pious, indecisive and often delusional. Bergreen’s tangents, however, are disruptive t ...more
Wendy Wolpert-DeWitt
Detailed and comprehensive, this book examines the complicated life of Chistopher Columbus as told by primary and secondary sources. Unflinchingly, the author relates the ups and downs, manias and depressions, legendary acumen at dead reckoning, horrible abilities to lead people, and all the ironic twists of fate that gave Spain claim to far more than they could have hoped -- and the horrors of inquisition, indolence, and superstitious that established a tragic relationship for centuries to come ...more
I can tell that I'm not enjoying a book as much as I should when I find that I'm not often motivated to pick it up. It took me 24 days to read a 368-page book, and that's about three times more than it should have taken.

Columbus' voyages to the New World had a tremendously significant impact on world history, in many different ways. The story of that impact is fascinating. The details of his actual voyages, however, are a lot less interesting, and that's what this book focuses on. We see Columbu
Columbus did not know where he was going, when he got there he did not know where he was, and when he returned he did not know where he had been. And he did this 4 times.

Bergreen's book tells of Columbus's life and 10 years of battling to get sponsorship and voyages. Ten years spent arguing to go on a 40 day voyage. Bergreen paints Columbus as greedy - maybe he was or maybe he knew he needed gold to retain the support from Ferdinand and Isabella. He certainly was a great navigator relying on de
Dec 08, 2012 Joe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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