Friday, December 18, 2009

Staff recommended reading: A Land So Strange

I highly recommend the book A Land So Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca, the Extraordinary Tale of a Shipwrecked Spaniard who Walked Across America in the Sixteenth Century by Andrés Reséndez (2007, Basic Books, New York). It is an easy-to-read and fascinating nonfiction book about the strangely-named Spaniard Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca who, along with three other men, was one of the only survivors of a party of 300 colonists that landed near Tampa Bay, Florida, on April 15, 1528, and ended up making a 1500-mile trek across North America eventually arriving in Mexico City. It is a tale not only of survival, but of exploration, and also of transformation, as Cabeza de Vaca went from being a slave of various Native American tribes to a trader, allowing him to travel freely among the tribes, to eventually being regarded as a faith healer with a large following of Native Americans who called Cabeza de Vaca and his compatriots "children of the sun." Cabeza de Vaca published a report of his experiences in 1542 and called it La Relacion (The Report), later known as Naufragios (Shipwrecks). It has been reprinted many times under different titles and in many different languages. The San Francisco Public Libary has a few of these in the original Spanish, and translated into English. The following are available at the Mission Branch...

The shipwrecked men (2007, Penguin Books, New York) by Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca ; translated by Fanny Badelier ; translation revised by Harold Augenbraum.

Naufragios (2000, Ediciones SM, Madrid) por Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca ; prólogo de Marcos Giralt Torrente.

Naufragios y comentarios (1985, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid) por Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca.

Cabeza de Vaca's Adventures in the unknown interior of America (1983, Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press) by Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca ; translated and annotated by Cyclone Covey ; with a new epilogue by William T. Pilkington.


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