Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s Relación (1542), now most commonly known by the title of Naufragios, is arguably one of the most fascinating texts of the period concerning the Spanish Conquest and exploration in the Americas. A unique account of disaster and struggle for survival, the text provides singular ethnographic information on the several North American indigenous tribes between Florida and northern Mexico among whom the members of the Pánfilo de Narváez expedition lived for some eight years. For professional scholars and students alike, the Cabeza de Vaca narrative invites a contemplation of cultural contact between Europeans and Amerindians, and it elucidates the rhetorical pitfalls of writing for the empire.

Aware of the importance of Cabeza de Vaca’s text for early North American history and an English-speaking audience, Rolena Adorno and Patrick Charles Pautz have published this two-hundred-page annotated text, a practical edition reproduced from the earlier three-volume set,...

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