Book Review: Columbus The Untold Story
Looking for a good read on Columbus this Columbus Day? Manuel Rosa’s Columbus The Untold Story may be the best and most authoritative book ever written on Columbus. And for us Steemians who are here shattering paradigms in social media and publishing, more good news: Rosa smashes all kinds of paradigms in his book.
The standard tale most of us taught and carry with us the rest of our lives is that Columbus started life in a family of indigent peasant wool-weavers in Genoa, at that time not part of Italy because Italy did not yet exist as a nation. At some point he boards a ship that gets sinks in a storm, and he manages to swim ashore in Portugal. In Portugal, this ignorant wool weaver who knows nothing and speaks no Portuguese climbs his way to the top of the Portuguese aristocracy and marries a princess. But instead of living happily ever after at the end of that fairy tale, he goes on to Spain where he dupes King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella into sponsoring him, who has never captained a ship, to lead a voyage to India by sailing in the wrong direction.
As Rosa points out in the book, and takes great lengths to explain in painstaking but compelling detail, this is a laughable fairy tale that couldn’t possibly have any basis in reality, especially within the restrictiveness of medieval society.
Rosa reviews the works of various proponents of the Genoese Columbus hypothesis, and soundly rejects all of them. As it turns out, almost all the evidence for the Genoese claims is either shabby at best, or fabricated at worst. At times the municipal government of Genoa enthusiastically produced fraudulent evidence to support the claim, bolster the Italian-American community, and of course, profit.
Rosa then goes on to present a new hypothesis. He digs deeply into previously ignored Portuguese archives, examines newly emerged documents, and reads over tens of thousands of documents and books in Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian and Polish. He’s not only a masterful researcher, but a master of languages as well. After 21 years of research into what he realized was a 500-year-old mystery of a man, and mission, and spy craft and espionage of the highest order, Rosa puts the pieces together like no one else before him has been able to. It’s almost as if the real history had been deliberately suppressed, and Rosa tells us why. Even his English edition is hard to come by, being available only from his own website.
Let’s take a look at Rosa’s own boiler plate to see how thoroughly he’s stirred the pot of professional academia (He uses the Spanish Colon to refer to Columbus):
• All contemporaries agree Colon had expert sailing knowledge at par with the expert Portuguese pilots of the day
• He continued his secret communications with the King of Portugal while in Spain
• He intentionally made false statements to Spain regarding India and enlisted others like Amerigo Vespucci to do the
• He hid his real name real name and nationality not from the kings, but from us, the public at large.
• He always knew he was not in India and he never planned to reach India.
• The last will of 1498 said to be written by Colon is a forgery written 90 years after his death
• His wife not just a Portuguese noble, but at the top of the aristocracy.
• Historians don’t believe Columbus sailed to the New World in 1477. We show he did
• Columbus lied about the sinking of the Santa Maria. He deliberately sabotaged and marooned to strand the
• Rather than rejecting Columbus’ claims, King Joao II of Portugal helped plan the journey because it was a psy op
• It took 500 years to construct the lie and over 20 years to destroy it.
• Just as James Bond has the codename “007,” Columbus’ codename was Cristobal Colon
• Columbus went to great lengths to conceal his true name because he was on a secret mission for Portugal to lure
Spain away from India and secure Portugal’s monopoly.
These are some extraordinary claims the author makes, and yet he meticulously supports them throughout the book. Normally I would say he does it in excruciating detail, but there is nothing excruciating about this book at all. Every detail is a compelling fact that leaves you begging for the next one as the plot advances. It reads not only like a historical work, but as a spy thriller and adventure story as well.
Rosa travels some exciting side trails too that no Columbus researcher ever even noticed before let alone dared to venture down. He informs us that Portugal was the last Templar state in Europe, that its Kings were regularly excommunicated from the Church and didn’t care! He takes inside the Templar lodges where we learn the secrets of their membership and operations. We witness diplomatic intrigue in England, France and the Vatican. The most surprising, and important, side trip of all is to the Polish court during their war against the Ottomans.
The book is chock full of reproduced documents and color plates that support Rosa’s thesis. He conducts numerous DNA tests to verify and repudiate relations and descendants. Being Portuguese himself and a genealogical researcher, he brings unique insights and understandings to the Columbus story that, frankly, academic historians just aren’t capable of.
If you love history, and especially alternative history, this will be one of the most stunning books you ever pick up. If you love conspiracy theory, this book makes them fact, at least the ones it deals with. If you love mysteries and spy novels, this real-life case will keep you riveted.
It’s already shaking up academia with its meticulously developed case and undeniably powerful evidence. It’s too bad Manuel Rosa is not a lawyer, because his opposition would detest his ability to build a case. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.
Buy it from Rosa himself and get a signed edition here: http://www.columbus-book.com/. I did.