Columbus and the Age of Discovery is about the voyages that led to the landings on the New World. It starts by posing the question: Why Columbus? The question is really: Why a European? Why not a Chinaman or Arab, and why didn’t the people of the Americas make the journey to Europe or Africa? The book then describes the difficulties Columbus encountered when trying to get his first voyage approved, before moving on to the voyages themselves. It looks at the Columbian Exchange – the plants and livestock that were introduced to Europe from the Americas and, conversely, the plants and livestock that Europeans took over with them. The final chapter looks at the longer term effects of the discoveries of the Americas and the various other 16th century voyages of discovery.
Columbus and the Age of Discovery was written to accompany a BBC television series that was made to mark the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s first voyage across the Atlantic. Aimed at a wide readership, it’s an easy book to read. At the same time, it’s very informative. For example, I’d never considered the question of why a European made that first voyage and not some other race.
Columbus and the Age of Discovery was written more than twenty years ago. However, the history and the impact of Europeans on the local peoples of the Americas are still relevant today.