First Voyage to America

First Voyage to America

From the Log of the "Santa Maria"

by Christopher Columbus, John O'Hara Cosgrave II (Illustrator)
Publisher: Dover Publications
Trade Paperback, 91 pages
Price: $9.95

Historical Setting: Spain and the Americas, 15th Century

On Friday, August 3, 1492, a half hour before sunrise, three ships slipped out of the harbor at Palos, Spain. It was the beginning of one of the great sea voyages of history—an attempt to reach the East Indies by sailing westward around the globe. The three ships were the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. The leader of the expedition, of course, was Christopher Columbus.

Although Columbus did not achieve his original objective, he accomplished something even greater—the discovery of the New World, a virtually unknown continent. His achievement is chronicled in this fascinating document, an abridgment of the ship's log (the original has never been discovered) made a generation later by Bartolomé de las Casas (1474-1566), whose father had sailed with Columbus on his second voyage.

The log brings vividly to life the day-to-day experience of being aboard a ship sailing into the unknown. As the weeks dragged on, the crew became frightened and discouraged and wanted to turn back. Fortunately, Columbus was able to reassure the men and they sailed on. After nearly six weeks at sea, the crew reported seeing terns and other land-based birds. In the days following they sighted more birds, river weeds, crabs, and other signs that their journey was near an end. Finally, on the morning of October 12, 1492, a lookout spied land—an island in the Bahamas.

This edition of the log concludes here with the appearance of natives who welcomed Columbus and his men as messengers from heaven. Forty-four sepia illustrations, including a number from rare sources, enhance this absorbing text, translated into English and set into large type for young readers. However, readers of all ages will enjoy this unique record of history's greatest expeditions.

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