Monday, December 9, 2019

Review of "Juan Ponce de Leon," by Jane Sutcliffe

Review of

Juan Ponce de Leon, by Jane Sutcliffe ISBN 0760766401

Five out of five stars

 The coverage of Ponce de Leon in the history classes is often limited to little more than his search of the Florida peninsula for the fabled fountain of youth. He of course never found it, because it does not exist. One wonders how a rumor of such a natural phenomenon could ever arise. Ponce de Leon was far more than just a simple adventurer/explorer, he was an officer of the Spanish Army in the Western Hemisphere and the governor of Spanish territories in the New World.

 The first of the most interesting and historically significant points made in this book are how the Europeans considered themselves the owners of any land where they were the first Europeans to walk on it. One of the disputes described in the book is when Diego Columbus, the son of Christopher, claimed control of Puerto Rico based on his deceased father being the first to walk on it. It demonstrates the arrogance of the Europeans and their disdain for the people already living on the lands they were claiming.

 The second point is how diseases carried by the Europeans nearly wiped out the native people of the Caribbean region. Even the powerful and warlike tribes were easily conquered and subjugated once the diseases had decimated the population.

 A figure that was a reasonable and just governor rather than a conquistador, the life of Ponce de Leon should be covered more thoroughly in history classes. This book is a good introduction to his role in the dark history of the European conquest of the New World.

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