THE GREAT CAPTAIN by Mary Purcell

THE GREAT CAPTAIN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Little biographical writing has been done in recent years---in English anyway---concerning the great 15th Century Spanish soldier Gonzalo Fernandez do Cordoba. This fine and readable book sets the ledgers right. Fernandez' times were some of the most disturbed, strife-ridden yet colorful in the whole history of a disturbed nation. Born into an atmosphere of anarchy and civil war, the young soldier early knew the violence of attacks on his town by warring noblemen or by the Moors from the south. By the time Ferdinand and Isabella had ascended the throne he was fighting the Moors in the south and winning his first fame in the retaking of Granada. By the time Columbus was making his great westward voyages under the Spanish flag Fernandez was winning the title of ""El Gran Capitan"" in terrible battles and sieges around Naples. Again he fights in Spain for Isabella, again in Naples as captain general of a fierce, loyal Spanish army. His relations with the infamous Cesare Borgia, his steadfast loyalty to the Spanish crown in the face of intrigues and terrible corruption in Catholic Europe, and his final eclipse after the death of Isabella are all told with compassion and with a great eye for history and the men made famous in it. The last scene in the book---a short description of the brave old Spaniard's death with possible supernatural overtones---provides a fitting end to a great tale of Spain. Very readable.

Publisher: Doubleday