Cultural anthropologist Delaney offers an interpretation of Christopher Columbus's career based on the apocalyptical millenarianism she identifies in his thinking.
The author argues that the reconquest of Jerusalem was the passion of Columbus's life and also the purpose of his voyages. Her substantiation is found in works like the Book of Prophesies, produced near the end of his life, his letters to the Borgia Pope, Alexander VI and the comparison of the flow of the Orinoco with the book of Genesis and the hinterland of the Terrestrial Paradise. Delaney believes these kinds of views have been downplayed in consideration of the explorer’s life and work. Focusing on this less-iconic side of Columbus, author casts new light on the policies of the monarchs under whom he worked, first in Portugal and then Spain. His 1492 voyage began on August 2, the day set for Spain's Jews to convert or face execution. The “reconquista” of Al-Andalus from the Moors was considered by Spain's monarchs to be just a step on the road to Jerusalem. As Delaney and others have shown, Columbus was neither open nor truthful about his motives or ultimate plans, so his writings cannot necessarily be taken at face value. His “sail west to go east” strategy failed to find the Indies and their riches and was associated with heterodox cosmological views. As his stories were discredited, he probably had good reason to fear his own monarch's inquisitors.
A welcome reappraisal of Columbus and his legacy.