One of the most persistent legends in the annals of New World exploration is that of the Land of God. Its mythical site was located over vast areas of South American (and later, North America); it drove some men mad with greed and, often as not, to their deaths.
In this amazing history of quest and adventure, Robert Silverberg traces the fate of Old World explorers lured westward by the myth of El Dorado. From the German conquistadores, licensed by the Spanish king to operate out of Venezuela; to the journeys of Gonzalo Pizarro in the Amazon basin; to the nearly miraculous voyage of Orellana as far as the mouth of the Amazon (where he encountered the warlike women, who, according to his chronicler, gave the river its name); violence and bloodshed accompanied the determined adventurers. Sir Walter Raleigh (and a host of others) spent small fortunes and many lives trying to locate Manoa, a city that was rumored to be El Dorado.
It was the naturalist Humboldt in the nineteenth century who turned attention back to Lake Guatavita, where gold was indeed found-though much less than the mythic El Dorado. Too little, in fact, to be worth the cost of extracting it. And so the legend died.
With the historian’s attention to fact and the novelist’s gift for the dramatic, Silverberg recreates the legend of El Dorado.
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