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.