When Columbus was born in the mid-fifteenth century, Europe was isolated in many ways from the rest of the Old World and Europeans did not even know that the world of the Western Hemisphere existed. The voyages of Christopher Columbus opened a period of European exploration and empire building that breached the boundaries of those isolated worlds and changed the course of human history. This book describes the life and times of Christopher Columbus. The story is not just of one man's rise and fall. Seen in its broader context, his life becomes a prism reflecting the broad range of human experience for the past five hundred years.
Another study published in conjunction with the Columbus quincentenary. This work firmly places Columbus within the broader context of 200 years of earlier European maritime efforts aimed at gaining wealth through trade with Asia and expanding Christianity. By 1491, the geographical theory and navigational techniques had been well established, making a westward search for Asia inevitable. The authors perceive Columbus as one whose skills and perseverance made him the right man in the right time and place. They also delineate the enormous worldwide consequences of his fateful encounter with a ``new world,'' including the catastrophes let loose on its native population. The Phillipses succeed in their aim of presenting a balanced view, which they hope will challenge the equally distorting myths of Columbus as hero or as villain. Based on the standard documentation, this readable though scholarly work is recommended for public and academic libraries seeking not just a biography but a history of European exploration before Columbus. For more books on Columbus, see ``Rediscovering Columbus,'' LJ 8/91, p. 120-122.--Ed.-- Wil liam F. Young, SUNY at Albany Lib.