From a Bancroft Prize-winning historian, the "gripping" tale of a shipwrecked Spaniard who walked across America in the sixteenth century (Financial Times)
In 1528, a mission set out from Spain to colonize Florida. But the expedition went horribly wrong: Delayed by a hurricane, knocked off course by a colossal error of navigation, and ultimately doomed by a disastrous decision to separate the men from their ships, the mission quickly became a desperate journey of survival. Of the four hundred men who had embarked on the voyage, only four survived-three Spaniards and an African slave. This tiny band endured a horrific march through Florida, a harrowing raft passage across the Louisiana coast, and years of enslavement in the American Southwest. They journeyed for almost ten years in search of the Pacific Ocean that would guide them home, and they were forever changed by their experience. The men lived with a variety of nomadic Indians and learned several indigenous languages. They saw lands, peoples, plants, and animals that no outsider had ever before seen. In this enthralling tale of four castaways wandering in an unknown land, Andrés Reséndez brings to life the vast, dynamic world of North America just a few years before European settlers would transform it forever.
In 1528, 300 conquistadores embarked on the ambitious mission of colonizing Florida. They all disappeared. Eight years later, a band of Spanish slave-traders were rounding up their fleeing human cargo in northwest Mexico when they espied a group of men who appeared to be natives approaching them. One was white. Just as astonishingly, a companion of his was African. Who were these strange figures? They, and two others, were the last survivors of the lost expedition. Their march across Florida, their voyage on spindly rafts across the Gulf of Mexico, their captivity in Texas and their trek across the southwest to the Pacific coast form the backbone of Res ndez's riveting account of the epic journey. The author, a history professor at the University of California Davis, tells the tale from the Spanish, African and Indian points of view: Native Americans were just as amazed by the original visitors as the visitors were by them, and Res ndez focuses on how the interlopers remade themselves as medicine men and made sense of "social worlds other Europeans could not even begin to fathom." Told from an intriguing and original perspective, Res ndez's narrative is a marvelous addition to the corpus of survival and adventure literature. 15 illus, 16 maps.