South and Central America and the Caribbean
The New World Chronicles
by Peter Martyr d’Anghera
In 1493-1526, the first accounts of explorations in Central and South America were written in a series of letters and reports by the historian of the Spanish royal court, Peter Martyr d'Ánghera (1457-1526). These letters, grouped in the original Latin publications of 1511-1530 into sets of ten chapters called “decades,” cover the earliest contacts of Europeans and native Americans in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America, and South America. Martyr, who personally interviewed the first Spanish explorers, provides a wealth of details on both native cultures and Spanish conquistadors.
Originally published in Latin as De Orbe Novo (1511-1530). Translated into English (1912) by Francis Augustus MacNutt.
[Spanish caravel, Letter of Columbus1493]
Paperback, 305 pages
Paperback, 361 pages
2 volume set: ISBN 1-887954-07-4.
[Map of the New World, from Dampier]
Voyages and Discoveries of the Companions of Columbus
by Washington Irving
This work, part of a series that also includes The History of Columbus (1828), was compiled by the legendary American writer Washington Irving in 1829. Irving had unique access to both published and unpublished texts of Don Martin Fernandez de Navarette, the early 19th century Spanish editor and biographer of Columbus. Navarette had assembled many documents from the Royal archives in Spain including journals, maps, court records, and private correspondence of the conquistadors.
The Companions of Columbus thus offers a mine of fascinating details on both the explorers and the native peoples and lands of Central and South America. Spanning the period 1499 to 1521, and also drawing from early accounts by Peter Martyr, Las Casas, and Herrera, the narrative includes the exploits of Alonzo de Ojeda, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Juan Ponce de Léon, and a host of lesser known explorers.
Paperback, viii + 363 pages. Notes, index, and bibliography, plus new maps and illustrations.
ISBN 1-887954-10-4. US $15.95
Voyages Around the World
by William Dampier
William Dampier, who joined up with pirates more than once during his sojourns in the tropics of the New World and southeast Asia, is a respected, highly original authority on both the Spanish Main and East Indies. His accounts of the Caribbean coasts from Mexico to Panama dovetail nicely with those of two other British characters, the surgeon Lionel Wafer and Basil Ringrose, a young adventurer, both of whom fortunately left written memoirs concerning their Caribbean exploits (ca. 1690-1700). With them, Dampier crosses Panama and provides rare first-hand reports on terrain, villages, and various pirate skirmishes. Dampier is also a skilled observer. His anecdotal narrative style includes highly informed, sustained accounts on a host of subjects. These range from everyday work routines in the then highly profitable logwood trade of Campeche (the heartwood being used for dyes back in England), to a myriad of details on coastal topography, flora and fauna, trade routes, and the often ephemeral boomtowns then linked with British, Spanish, and French Caribbean commerce.
Later commissioned by the British crown, Dampier went on to discover the island of New Britain in Melanesia, as well as an archipelago near Australia (now named for him, as is a genus of plants he first described). Dampier’s treatise on world oceanic currents, moreover, still retains scientific importance. In his Voyages, Dampier, a most interesting figure in his own right, combines adventure, historical detail, and natural observation.
Based on the 1906 London edition with notes and introduction by John Masefield.
Vol.1: Paperback, 457 pages. Illustrations, notes. ISBN 1-887954-16-3.
Vol.2: Paperback, 539 pages. Illustrations, maps, notes, and index. ISBN 1-887954-17-1.
2 volume set: ISBN 1-887954-15-5.
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