Ryan Mishap's Reviews > A Land So Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca

A Land So Strange by Andrés Reséndez
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Oct 05, 2008

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bookshelves: history

“The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca.” This book tells the tale of a failed colonizing attempt made in 1528 by a group of three hundred Spaniards. Due to poor navigation, they didn’t land on what is now the east coast of Mexico, but in what is now Florida. Above a hundred men put ashore and started marching west, thinking they would hit a river that was far away across the sea. By 1536, only three men survived—de Vaca, Dorantes, del Castillo, and Esteban (a slave originally from Africa)—found by their brutal country men in what is now Northwest Mexico. The author gives us the background on the expedition as well as a brief overview of the time and its values. The narration is solid, especially as the conquistadores begin traveling on land. They construct rafts and sail hundreds of miles across the Gulf of Mexico. More perish and some turn to cannibalism. The four survivors wind up living with various native groups as they make their way west (and north and east and south). It was a remarkable journey and this is a good description. My only complaint is that the author tries harder than he should to entreat his readers to forgive the Spaniards their atrocities. He doesn’t become an apologist by any means, just a little irksome.

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