Christopher Columbus has been a key cultural icon both in the United States and in Latin America. That the Admiral of the Ocean Sea befitted the ideologies that eulogized Spain's empire is no enigma; that he turned into a fitting symbol for nationalist discourses is indeed baffling. Why and how this came about is what Elise Bartosik-Vélez explores in this book.

The author begins by tracing how Columbus became connected to the idea of empire. In this regard, Bartosik-Vélez claims that since the beginnings of his liaison with the Spanish crown, Columbus portrayed his deeds “as fundamental to Spain's drive to universal Christian empire” (p. 16). This self-promotion was intertwined with religious and political traditions that linked ancient and medieval conceptions about empire with the spread of Christianity, the Crusades, and the Spanish Reconquista. Chroniclers of the conquest like Bartolomé de Las...

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