|On the Texas Trail of Cabeza de Vaca
written by Peter Lourie
One of the greatest adventures in history. In 1527, the conquistador Cabeza de Vaca set sail for the Spanish territory of La Florida. His aim was to colonize land that stretched from present-day Florida to Texas, but the mission met with disaster. During an attempt to sail back to Cuba, Cabeza de Vaca and his crew crashed near Galveston Island. From there, he embarked on one of history's great adventures. His quest to return home took him ten years. He became the first European to live among the native people of Texas, the first to walk across the North American continent, the first to see the Mississippi and Pecos rivers and the Pacific Ocean from the North American continent. Following historical clues, Peter Lourie traces the conquistador's trail across Texas and into Mexico.
Behind the Book
“Governor Pánfilo de Narváez sailed westward from Spain to explore the land that stretched between present-day Florida and Mexico, colonizing and conquering. With him, as his treasurer and sheriff, was Cabeza de Vaca. The men ran out of food, and Spanish ships failed to return for them. In desperation, they built five rafts and attempted to sail to Mexico. The survivors made it as far as Galveston. By this time, the governor was dead, and Cabeza de Vaca served as the commander. Eight years later, he returned to Spain, one of only four to live through the ordeal. He didn't bring the hoped-for gold, but he did return with a wealth of information, codified in La Relación, his account of his experience. Then, 475 years later, Lourie set out to follow Cabeza de Vaca's trail through Texas, using La Relación as a guide. This well-researched, beautifully composed book is the result. Using primary sources and period reproductions as well as the author's experiences and contemporary pictures, it highlights historical information within the context of current circumstances. Beautifully placed photos, reproductions, maps, and sidebars enhance the fluid text, making this title sound fare for augmenting American history units.” (School Library Journal)
“As he did in volumes such as On the Trail of Sacagawea (2001), Lourie journeys in the footsteps of a significant historical figure. Since the explorer’s actual path is disputed, Lourie consulted historians for advice before choosing his route through Texas … Illustrated with many period pictures and maps as well as clear, color photos, the book offers information about Cabeza de Vaca within a contemporary framework. Some students may be put off by the framework story, but those who persevere will find useful information as well as insights into a historian’s methods and disputes.” (Booklist)
“This book is both an excellent historical reference and a model for students on how to conduct historical research.” (Childhood Education)“The author explains how he identified Cabeza de Vaca's probable route with help from scholars and local guides, and illustrates his travelogue with a mix of period and later images. His narrative voice sets this apart from more detailed but less personal accounts of the explorer's adventures.” (Kirkus Reviews)
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