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Brutal Journey

Cabeza de Vaca and the Epic First Crossing of North America

Paul Schneider

Holt Paperbacks

One part Lewis and Clark, one part Heart of Darkness, Brutal Journey tells the story of an army of would-be conquerors who came to the New World on the heels of Cortés. Bound for glory, they landed in Florida in 1528. But only four of the four hundred would survive: eight years and a 5,000-mile journey later, three Spaniards and a black Moroccan wandered out of the wilderness to the north of the Rio Grande and into Cortés's gold-drenched Mexico.
 
The survivors brought nothing back 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 reach Mexico, the only place where they were certain they would find an outpost of the Spanish empire.

The journey of the Narváez expedition is one of the greatest survival epics in the history of American exploration. By combining the accounts of the explorers with the most recent findings of archaeologists and academic historians, Brutal Journey offers an authentic narrative to replace a legend of North American exploration.

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Introduction
 
On Good Friday of 1528 an army of four hundred Spaniards, Africans, and Caribbean natives landed in the vicinity of Tampa Bay, Florida, under the command of a middle-aged conquistador with a last-chance license to conquer North America. They promptly disappeared without a trace into the swamps and, except for a small contingent that remained on board the ships, were soon assumed to be dead. But then, eight years and thousands of miles later, three Spaniards and a Moroccan wandered out of what is now the United States into what was then Cortés's gold-drenched Mexico.
 
They
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Praise for Brutal Journey

"Brutal Journey is a wonderfully rich account of an incredible cross-country journey of survival. Paul Schneider's beautifully crafted book takes us to another time in another world, a place of native American shamans, Spanish conquistadors, and unbelievable determination. Best of all, it really happened."--Jerald T. Milanich, Ph.D., archaeologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History and author of Florida Indians from Ancient Times to the Present

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Paul Schneider

  • Paul Schneider, author of the highly praised and successful The Adirondacks (0-8050-5990-3), a New York Times Book Review Notable Book, and The Enduring Shore (0-8050-6734-5), lives with his wife and son in Martha's Vineyard.
  • Paul Schneider
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    Brutal Journey

    Cabeza de Vaca and the Epic First Crossing of North America

    Paul Schneider

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    Holt Paperbacks

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