Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca

  • by Robin Varnum
  • Narrated by Charles Henderson Norman
  • 12 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In November 1528, almost a century before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, the remnants of a Spanish expedition reached the Gulf Coast of Texas. By July 1536, eight years later, Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (c. 1490 - 1559) and three other survivors had walked 2,500 miles from Texas, across northern Mexico, to Sonora and ultimately to Mexico City. Cabeza de Vaca's account of this astonishing journey is now recognized as one of the great travel stories of all time and a touchstone of New World literature. But his career did not begin and end with his North American ordeal. Robin Varnum's biography, the first single-volume, cradle-to-grave account of the explorer's life in 80 years, tells the rest of the story.
During Cabeza de Vaca's peregrinations through the American Southwest, he lived among and interacted with various Indian groups. When he and his non-Indian companions finally reconnected with Spaniards in northern Mexico, he was horrified to learn that his compatriots were enslaving Indians there. In Río de La Plata he tried to keep his men from robbing the Indians, enslaving them, or exploiting them sexually - policies that caused grumbling among the troops. When Cabeza de Vaca's men mutinied, he was sent back to Spain in chains to stand trial before the Royal Council of the Indies.

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What the Critics Say

"Robin Varnum has written a masterful and highly readable account of Cabeza de Vaca's adventures in both North and South America." (Andrés Reséndez, author of A Land So Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A bit too many dates

A great story, a true survivor. It takes a while to get hooked to this story
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- Simon le Sorcier

Spain and the New World

Would you consider the audio edition of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca to be better than the print version?

Not sure-I only listened to the audio version.


What did you like best about this story?

The story and the characters were fantastic! I never realized that Spain's history in the New World was so fascinating; the narrator really brought all of the characters to life for me!


Have you listened to any of Charles Henderson Norman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No-this was my first.


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I just really enjoyed the story-it was riveting. I feel like I have a more comprehensive understanding of the history that shaped humankind.


Any additional comments?

I had a tough time keeping track of the many names that were being read, especially since many of those names were unique to Spain.

I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review.

Read full review

- EP

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-07-2015
  • Publisher: University Press Audiobooks