Almost every aspect of the colonial enterprise is ably covered... as an intelligent and incisive narrative the book would be hard to better... It is unusual to finish so long a book wishing for more. ( SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)
A splendid volume, bold and strong in its outlines, rich in fascinating details, punctuated by well-chosen quotations from contemporaries and eyewitnesses, and accompanied by many maps and excellent illustrations. It is an ambitious project, magnificently carried out, and his publishers have done him proud. (PAUL JOHNSON LITERARY REVIEW)
As a historian, Thomas is master of the big picture and the diorama... Rivers of Gold sweeps us restlessly on, powered not, as such a book might otherwise be, by compassion and anger in the face of conquest and exploitation, but by the writer's infinite wonder at the courage, audacity and resilience of Renaissance Spain to which this is the most handsomest of tributes. (Jonathan Keates Spectator)
An epic history of an extraordinary age. ( THE SCOTSMAN)
Thomas brings alive the spirit of the era through descriptions of explorers expectations and delivers the tragedy of Europe's effect on its conquered lands. ( GOOD BOOK GUIDE)
There is considerable Jewish interest in historian Hugh Thomas's Rivers of Gold. It contains much about the machinations behind the 1492 expulsion and notes that Jewish conversos continued in powerful positions in Spain. ( JEWISH CHRONICLE)
"To carry out the conquest of so many countries, to cross so many seas and rivers, valleys, forests and mountains, and to take on the Aztecs and the Mayans in their own territory, some great idea was needed as well as human will." (Americo Castro)
When, in 1492, Christopher Columbus finally stood ready to set sail across the 'Ocean Sea' for what he thought was India (christening the Indies and the Indians), he crossed himself and devoted his expedition to the Holy Trinity and to the King and Queen of Spain. With the gold and spices (and slaves) he would find, Columbus planned to fund a new Crusade to win back Jerusalem. As he set out, the Muslims were being besieged at Granada. The Catholic monarchs would soon inhabit the Alhambra, and the Inquisition would persuade them to command all Jews to convert or be expelled from Spain penniless. At the time Columbus's voyage was insignificant, but it became one of the most important events in history. The colonisation he started was followed by the Dutch, French and British. Pioneers like Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci (who gave his name to America) and the hundreds of Spaniards they inspired looked for riches, glory and to serve God in the New World. While they didn't believe the earth was flat, they thought an Earthly Paradise existed on the far side of the Indies, and that the rivers flowed with gold. Later the Conquistadores brought slavery, their irresistable weapons and European diseases to the ancient civilisations, and made Spain the richest nation in the world.
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