Brutal Journey: The Epic Story of the First Crossing of North America

Brutal Journey The Epic Story of the First Crossing of North America A gripping account of four explorers adrift in an unknown land and the harrowing journey that took them across North America years before Lewis and ClarkOne part Heart of Darkness one part Lewis

  • Title: Brutal Journey: The Epic Story of the First Crossing of North America
  • Author: Paul Schneider
  • ISBN: 9780805068351
  • Page: 305
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A gripping account of four explorers adrift in an unknown land and the harrowing journey that took them across North America 270 years before Lewis and ClarkOne part Heart of Darkness, one part Lewis and Clark, Brutal Journey tells the story of a group of explorers who came to the new world on the heels of Cort s bound for glory, only four of four hundred would survive EA gripping account of four explorers adrift in an unknown land and the harrowing journey that took them across North America 270 years before Lewis and ClarkOne part Heart of Darkness, one part Lewis and Clark, Brutal Journey tells the story of a group of explorers who came to the new world on the heels of Cort s bound for glory, only four of four hundred would survive Eight years and some five thousand miles later, three Spaniards and a black Moroccan wandered out of the wilderness to the north of the Rio Grande and into Cortes gold drenched Mexico.The four survivors of the Narv ez expedition brought nothing back from their sojourn other than their story, but what a tale it was They had become killers and cannibals, torturers and torture victims, slavers and enslaved They became faith healers, arms dealers, canoe thieves, spider eaters, and finally, when there were only the four of them left in the high Texas desert, they became itinerate messiahs They became, in other words, whatever it took to stay alive long enough to inch their way toward Mexico, the only place where they were certain they would find an outpost of the Spanish empire.The journey of the Cabeza De Vaca expedition is one of the greatest survival epics in the history of American exploration By drawing on the accounts of the first explorers and the most recent findings of archaeologists and academic historians, Paul Schneider offers a thrilling and authentic narrative to replace a legend of North American exploration.

    One thought on “Brutal Journey: The Epic Story of the First Crossing of North America”

    1. It was hard to get past this quote from page 115: "What had worked in Mexico for Cortez would work again in La Florida for Narvaez, and the sooner the ships were gone the sooner he and his army would, like Hannibal, be across the Rubicon." Cringe-worthy. The writing was pretty average, but that took the cake, or the pie, orwhatever.

    2. I loved this book. I loved it so much that I Google-stalked the author, Paul Schneider, only to find that that is also the name of the actor that played Mark Brandanowicz on Parks and Recreation. For a minute I thought they might be the same person, but alas, they were not.The point here is that this Paul Schneider is an extremely gifted writer who can make history leap off the page. He is enthralled by Cabeza de Vaca and his enthusiasm is catching. I'd read novels by this guy. The lengthy bibli [...]

    3. I couldn't, as hard as I tried, engage with this story. The focal point is the conquistadores, which is not a bad subject, if only the author had been more authoritative. There is more detail here than is usually given in the textbooks, but to practically no avail; the story is so uncompelling that the details drift by without effect. Tedium is such an intangible failing that it sounds like a copout to slap it on a book without critiquing the rest of it, but here I must. The information was soli [...]

    4. Brutal Journey is an outstanding narrative. Perhaps I was spellbound because I grew up just a few miles from where the Narvaez expedition landed in the Tampa Bay area. It's a darned good tale, told well. More than 400 expedition members began the quest for wealth in the New World. Four survived, after seven years of wandering. This is the story of those four, gleaned from records and diaries they wrote. It is a saga of greed, bravery and extreme stupidity on the part of their leader. "C'mon, let [...]

    5. Back when men were menwow, these guys endured more than could be possibly imagined. In addition to starvation, captured Europeans might find themselves the victims of having their beards pulled out hair by hair by some of the indian tribes as they had never seen bearded men before. Truely an apropos title.

    6. An amazing and fascinating story but rather disturbing and painful to read. Still, recommend to any who find this sort of history interesting.

    7. VERY interesting book about Cabeza de Vaca's journey through Florida, Texas and into Mexico. THIS is how a textbook SHOULD read!

    8. In 1527 the Narváez expedition, a group of Spanish conquistadors, five ships and some 600 men (and a few women), set off on a voyage to the New World, with the intention of replicating Hernán Cortés' success in conquering the Aztec Empire, and gaining territory and riches for the Spanish king and Christian souls for their God. After losing some 150 men to desertion on the island of Hispaniola and losing several ships and their passengers to a hurricane, the remaining ships and men landed on t [...]

    9. Strangers in a Strange Land:With swords, grit and determination, the Conquistadors sought fame and fortune in the "New World". Their primary goals were land, to expand Spain's holdings, and gold, for themselves and their King. Any native people they encountered were to be conquered, enslaved and converted to a proper religion--often all three at once. In the early 16th Century one of these Spanish "explorers", Panfilo de Narvaez, was in search of an opportunity, instead what he got was a one way [...]

    10. Brutal Journey' retells one of the most incredible (and least know) chapters of the early European exploration of the Americas - the spectacular failure of Panfilo de Narvaez in his attempt to conquer the Gulf Coast of North America, and the ordeal of the four men (out of an original four hundred) who survived. Though the story had already been told in a first hand account by survivor Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca in his `Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America', there was amble reason for Sc [...]

    11. "Brutal Journey" is an adventure narrative that reads like magic realism. As written on the dustjacket, it is "one part 'Heart of Darkness,' one part Lewis and Clark"--a tale colored by mens' darkest ambitions and actions, but also lightened with frequent paradoxical moments of hopefulness and rare beauty.Drawn primarily from two sources, the personal memoirs of Cabeza de Vaca published in 1542, and a copy of the expedition report written by the expedition survivors, "Brutal Journey" relates in [...]

    12. Meh. Two reasons:The problem with nonfiction is that there are so few great story arcs. This is billed (see the subtitle) as an epic. Here's the gist: Bunch of Spanish conquistadors in a really, really badly planned & executed expedition wander into the swamp in Tampa Bay, Florida. Screw up hugely, at which point they stop functioning as protagonists and become flotsam. Spasmodically flail their way down the Gulf Coast to Galveston, Texas, where things mire down. The handful of survivors the [...]

    13. Aside from the first few chapters, Brutal Journey by Paul Schneider was a compelling narrative that occasionally reminded me of reading science fiction, made fantastically remarkable because it is an actual account of the Spanish “conquistadors” adventure exploring from present day Florida to the Pacific coast between 1528 and 1536. Encounters with long lost tribe after tribe of “Indians” with wildly different and bizarre social customs affecting the survival of those few who did survive [...]

    14. Not all those brave, brutal Spanish conquistadors succeeded in conquering anything. There were many failed voyages, incompetent commanders, bad luck and smart Indians. We hear about Cortes and Pizzaro, who conquered fabulously rich kingdoms, but we don't hear about their contemporaries who died of disease, shipwreck, starvation or native arrows. Brutal Journey is the story of the Narvaez expedition, whose leader had a deed from the king of Spain giving him all of North America between Florida an [...]

    15. Brutal Journey recounts and examines the failed expedition of the American lands along the north shore of the Gulf of Mexico by Pánfilo de Narváez, which began with four hundred ill-fated Conquistadors landing in Tampa Bay in 1528, eleven years before the better known landing in Florida by Hernando De Soto. It is a remarkable account that begins, in part, by examining the legal underpinnings of Spanish conquest in the Americas, which rested on 700 years of confiscatory war with the Moors, and [...]

    16. I read this a few years ago for a university course in Colonial American history. It was my professor's latest find; he was highly wary of popular history books, but he was impressed enough by this one to add it to the required reading list. If the opinion of a bunch of undergrad history majors means anything (and I accept that to some people it might not), the entire class--with no exceptions--loved it. The book really is fantastic. In a nutshell, and without wanting to give much away: Four hun [...]

    17. Brutal Journey is a fantastic narrative collected from several primary and secondary sources about the almost unbelievable sequence of events that befell Narvaez, his royal treasurer (and primary author of the surviving account), and 600 Spanish soldiers that journeyed to La Florida in the 1520s to claim it for gold, god, country, and perhaps most importantly, Narvaez’s personal ambition. Paul Scheider is an expert weaver of words, and has an ability to intermingle prose and historical narrati [...]

    18. Schneider's account of this indeed-brutal journey describes the misadventures of a group of erstwhile Spanish conquerors who were licensed by the King to explore and colonize the land North of Cortes's Mexico. The effort ended in failure when the four survivors of the original 300-plus who landed on the west coast of Florida in 1528 staggered out of the wilderness on the Pacific coast of Northwestern Mexico nine years later!The story is inevitably episodic, as it relies on the only two first-han [...]

    19. This book is 100 times better than the last book I checked out about Cabeza de Vaca. The writing is great, and the narrative is fascinating. One of the most interesting things about this story is that even after years of living with the native peoples of what is now the U.S the surviving conquistadors went right back to commiting genocide against the very people who had saved them. Granted, some people argue that Cabeza de Vaca stood up for indigenous rights to some degree, but it seems like a v [...]

    20. Wow, what an adventure. Despite all the death, torture, starvation, etc of course. On the one hand it’s hard to believe that these 4 men survived their 8 year trek across the continent. But on the other hand, it’s hard to believe more of the ~400 that started out didn’t survive. I like the author’s style--kind of breezy, didn’t get bogged down in details. Very readable. Of course, it’s also an examination of the arrogance and hubris of these colonial explorers--their intention was to [...]

    21. Read this book over a year ago. Hard to remember specifics but the book centers around Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca and his Brutal Journey over the course of seven or eight years through early southern America. Focuses on how he was one of few survivors with what started as 500 or so explorers in the inrerior of what is today Florida. He is sold into slavery and makes his way to freedom. Reminds me of the movie Gladiator without the fighting except that this is a true account which makes it far mo [...]

    22. I am a huge history nerd, and I never even knew that this happened makes me wonder what else I'm missing! This was a great book, it was an exceptionally quick read for a non-fiction book, and Schneider did a good job with the little information that's around from this particular expedition. There was a little too much speculation in it for me--I'm nerdy, I like my facts solid!--but the story itself was so compelling, I can easily overlook some of the more nebulous features. I'm definitely going [...]

    23. What an amazing story from start to finish. This story could be a serious contender for the truth is stranger than fiction contest (if there is one). It stays with you long after you read it. In fact I lost my copy on a trip when about 3/4 through and had to buy another one. If you try to describe this moment of bizarre history, people think you've made the whole thing up. I kid you not. If you love history and a good adventure story filled with some "believe it or not" moments, this book is for [...]

    24. Wow. This was a good one. I'm into conquistadors and survival stories so this connected on both those levels. 1528, 400+ Spanish head off to La Florida thinking they will become rich beyond their dreams due to cities of gold. Not likely. What they do get is disease, enslavement, lost at sea, starvation, cannibalism, killed by a variety of tribes and other extremes. 8 years after they began their journey, four survivors make it out alive, naked & completely different people, to a Spanish sett [...]

    25. An excellent piecing together of the story of the first European expedition to cross a large section of the North American continent. The story of their voyage is incredible: starting out as a mass expedition of hundreds of men, death and mishaps reduces the number to a bare handful of practically naked survivors, struggling to find food. Given the scant and at times conflicting accounts of the expedition, Schneider does a great job of reconstructing the journey’s events.

    26. Brutal Journey is the story of the Narvaez expedition to Florida. They landed at Tampa in 1528 with the hope of conquering the peninsula, only they hadn't counted on meeting the Apalachee indians. Plagued by disease and the unyielding natives, Narvaez and his men abandoned their expedition and set off on a harrowing trek for survival that only 4 men survived. This is a nonfiction book but it reads like an adventure novel. I'm not a fast reader but I finished this book in about 3 days.

    27. Very interesting historical about a Spanish expedition to conquer and settle the north coast of the Gulf of Mexico. They landed near modern day Tampa Bay to an almost immediate run of bad decision making and disaster. Giving up they decide to head for Spanish settlements on the Mexican coast.7 years later the 4 that survived the out of original 300 finally ran into more Spaniards thousands of miles away in modern Sinaloa, western Mexico.

    28. Not the best read, a bit sluggish, but it has really fascinating scenes from a completely different world, the untouched paleolithic native societies in north america, for the "conquistador" it could just as well have been another planet. It's an amazing journey, those guys lived hard and survivedI'll use it as an argument the next time "somebody" wants to stop the car to stretch their legs.

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