A thorough, though not untroubled, understanding of Columbus’ adventures.

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS

HIS LIFE AND DISCOVERIES

Di Giovanni (Flat and Corrugated Diaphragm Design Handbook, 1982) presents an extensive history of Christopher Columbus and his travels.

Columbus was born in Genoa in 1451. As far as the historical record shows, the future explorer was largely self-educated and began his sailing career at a young age. In 1492, he famously sailed with three ships under the patronage of Spain, ostensibly to find a western route to Asia. The author explains this journey in detail, including the expedition’s encounters with many native peoples, and asserts that, for all of Columbus’ skills as a navigator, he truly believed that he had found a passage to the Far East. But the story doesn’t end there; Di Giovanni takes readers along on Columbus’ other sea travels, his eventual final return to Spain, and even tells of the demise of his descendants. The journeys of Columbus were not short, and readers will be struck by just how lengthy and frightening sea travel was in the 15th century. Sheer terror plays a big part in this story, and not just for the sailors who dared to test the high seas. The often friendly native people that Columbus met didn’t fare well, and the author avers that “their repeated acts of generosity accelerated their own enslavement and eventual decimation.” Nevertheless, Di Giovanni writes with an affection for Columbus, pointing out that the captain overcame many hardships “all with resilience and acceptance, always trusting in God.” Although this reverence for the explorer may seem dated, the book progresses easily and soberly. The author appears to consider Columbus a hero, but he still includes less savory material; an oft-cited and chilling passage, written by Columbus’ shipmate, Michele de Cuneo, shows how unashamedly brutal the age of exploration could be, as he captured a native girl that “Columbus allowed him to keep as a slave.” Readers likely won’t find Columbus to be endearing in the end, but they’ll probably have learned a great deal about what it meant to venture out on a vast, unforgiving ocean.

A thorough, though not untroubled, understanding of Columbus’ adventures.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-947431-08-9

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Barbera Foundation, Inc.

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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