The Epic Story of the First Crossing of North America
Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 9780805068351, 384pp.
Publication Date: May 2, 2006
One part "Heart of Darkness," one part Lewis and Clark, "Brutal Journey" tells the story of a group of explorers who came to the new world on the heels of Cortes; bound for glory, only four of four hundred would survive. Eight years and some five thousand miles later, three Spaniards and a black Moroccan wandered out of the wilderness to the north of the Rio Grande and into Cortes' gold-drenched Mexico.
The four survivors of the Narvaez expedition brought nothing back from their sojourn 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 inch their way toward Mexico, the only place where they were certain they would find an outpost of the Spanish empire.
The journey of the Cabeza De Vaca expedition is one of the greatest survival epics in the history of American exploration. By drawing on the accounts of the first explorers and the most recent findings of archaeologists and academic historians, Paul Schneider offers a thrilling and authentic narrative to replace a legend of North American exploration.
"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