Christopher Columbus may have “Sailed the Ocean Blue in 1492,” over 500 years ago, but only in recent years have books been written about the explorer that cover any new territory (pun intended) concerning personal information on this explorer.
For the most part, he has remained a remote figure without much depth and understanding. As Carla Phillips and William Phillips said in Christopher Columbus in United States History:Biography as Projection, “His exploits have assumed mythic proportions, but there has been little attempt to probe beyond the myth.” In fact, of the hundreds of books written on Columbus, nearly all are positive and many of them rehash the same information that has been in textbooks for decades and decades. In another one of their books, The Worlds of Christopher Columbus, the Phillips historian team adds that it was really not until the fourth centenary that “Columbus’s life found itsfirst great American debunker,” through the writings of Justin Winsor. Instead of trying to cut down Columbus through religious prejudice, slanted information or character defamation, Winsor based his information on the documentary record and unbiased scholarship. He noted that Columbus was everything from a bad administrator to profiteer hoping to gain from the slave trade.
One of the difficulties with a thorough study of Columbus is that much of the information about him comes from his own writings. Because of his strong ego, it comes as no surprise that Columbus only shows his good side in his log. He also probably thought of the important heritage his writings would leave to future generations. As the Phillips say, “Columbus had a strong sense of his own worth, rarely admitting any personal failings and tending to blame any and all misfortunes on the actions of others.
” In fact, in a flourish of pretentious mysticism, Columbus adopted the name…