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Publisher's Summary

Cabeza de Vaca's mode of transportation, afoot on portions of two continents in the early decades of the 16th century, fits one dictionary definition of the word "pedestrian". By no means, however, should the ancillary meanings of "commonplace" or "prosaic" be applied to the man or his remarkable adventures. Between 1528 and 1536, he trekked an estimated 2480 to 2640 miles of North American terrain from the Texas coast near Galveston Island to San Miguel de Culiacán near the Pacific Coast of Mexico. He then traveled under better circumstances, although still on foot, to Mexico City.
About a year later, Cabeza de Vaca returned to Spain. In 1540, the king granted Cabeza de Vaca civil and military authority in modern-day Paraguay. After arriving on the coast of Brazil in 1541, he was unable to find transportation by ship to the seat of his governorship. He then led a group of more 250 settlers through 1200 miles of unchartered back country, during which he lost only two men.
Cabeza de Vaca's travels are amazing in themselves, but during them he transformed from a proud Spanish don to lay advocate of Indian rights on both American continents. That journey is as remarkable as his travels. It was this "great awakening" that landed him in more trouble with Spaniards than Indians. Settlers at Asunción rebelled against the reformist governor, incarcerated him, tried to poison his food on two occasions, and finally sent him to Spain in irons. There he was tried and convicted on trumped-up charges of carrying out policies that were the exact opposite of what he had promoted - the humane protection of Indians.
This book examines the two great "journeys" of Cabeza de Vaca - his extraordinary adventures on two continents and his remarkable growth as a humanitarian.
©2012 Texas State Historical Association (P)2017 Texas State Historical Association
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Neesie315 on 11-05-17

The Great Pedestrian

Before reading this book, I had never heard of Cabeza de Vaca. His adventures seem to have been surpassed by those of Cortez, Desoto, etc. The book was interesting, but a little hard to follow as an Audible version. The names of people, Indian tribes & dates made it hard to keep straight; I'm sure it would have been much easier if I had a visual version to follow.

The narrator did a pretty good job, but was a little boring at times. Also, in listening instead of seeing, the way some of the book was written was bothersome. The narrator would be talking in third person, then suddenly switch to first person. I'm sure in the written book, there would have been quotations around these parts.

II enjoyed learning more about another Spanish explorer who helped shape the history of our nation. So many of the things that I learned about the early Spanish Conquistadores made them out to be brutal in their travels that this look at a more humanitarian one was refreshing.

I was provided a copy of this audiobook by the narrator/author/publisher and chose to review it.

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4 out of 5 stars
By Emily on 09-30-17


I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

This was a very succinct view of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and the two journeys of this life; his travels between two continents and his role as a humanitarian.

This was very interesting and I really enjoyed learning new things about North and South America and about conquest in general, most of which is seen through Cabeza de Vaca’s experiences, which were incredible.

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