The final decade of the 15th century was a turning point in world history. The Genoese mariner Christopher Columbus sailed westward on the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, famously determined to discover for Spain a shorter and more direct route to the riches of the Indies. Meanwhile, a fellow Italian explorer for hire, John Cabot, set off on his own journey, under England's flag. Here, Douglas Hunter tells the fascinating tale of how, during this expedition, Columbus gained a rival. In the space of a few critical years, these two men engaged in a high-stakes race that threatened the precarious diplomatic balance of Europe--to exploit what they believed was a shortcut to staggering wealth. Instead, they found a New World that neither was looking for.
Douglas Hunter provides a revelatory look at how the lives of Columbus and Cabot were interconnected, and that neither explorer can be understood properly without understanding both. Together, Cabot and Columbus provide a novel and important perspective on the first years of European experience of the New World.
Columbus and Cabot
This book is crammed with fascinating details about two pioneer explorers and the turbulent world they lived in. Unfortunately it suffers from poor organization and turgid writing.
A tale as complicated as this—really two tales intertwined—cries out for detailed maps and illustrations, but, except for two small maps at the front, is nothing but page after page of dense text. The reader is forced to resort to Wikipedia and other sources to find the illustrations and maps essential to understanding the complex journeys.
The author puts too much emphasis on the financial and political background, and not enough on the voyages themselves. Admittedly many of the original logbooks are long lost, but I was able to track down much more than the author did in my own researches.
In short, the information in this book is fascinating, but the reader must work hard to extract and organize it.