An enthralling, if ultimately unconvincing, hypothesis for the origins and motivations of Columbus.




Rosa offers an alternative portrait of Christopher Columbus in this debut work of historical revisionism.

It is now widely understood that certain elements of the popular story of Columbus (that he was the first European to reach America, that he alone in his era believed that the world was round) are false. Rosa presses even further, presenting the case that nearly everything that readers think they know about Columbus’ voyage to the New World—even the identity of the explorer himself —is fiction. Available in English for the first time, Rosa’s account of the true history of Columbus posits that the Admiral of the Ocean Sea was not the lowly son of a Genoese weaver but a member of one of Portugal’s most prominent families and the secret prince of Poland. A friend and agent of the Portuguese King João II, the Madeira-born Segismundo Henriques entered the service of Spain specifically to lure the Spanish west toward what he knew to be a new continent. In so doing, he hoped to distract them from the real India and thereby ensure Portugal’s trade hegemony. Furthermore, to obscure his true identity as the son of the dethroned king of Poland, Henriques adopted the pseudonym “Cristóbal Colón.” The secret has remained hidden for centuries, though clues in manuscripts, murals, ruined chapels, and DNA tell the real story for those clever enough to suss it out. Rosa is understandably defensive about having his work dismissed as a conspiracy theory, though what he advances is quite literally that: he argues that Columbus and others plotted to hide his true identity, to disseminate misinformation, and to deceive Spain for the benefit of Portugal. The author’s depiction of Columbus assuredly violates Occam’s razor, which doesn’t signify it can’t be true but does mean it isn’t terribly persuasive. “There is only one history of the world,” writes Rosa, “although there are countless ways for people to retell it.” With this nod to subjectivity, the author invites the reader to enjoy what is, in the end, a fun mystery surrounding one of history’s most prominent figures.

An enthralling, if ultimately unconvincing, hypothesis for the origins and motivations of Columbus.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-578-17931-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: Outwater Media Group

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2016

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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