Battle of the Books: A Land So Strange by Andres Resendez Vs. Brutal Journey by Paul Schneider

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: Florida had crazy stories even back in 1528.

Quick synopsis: A group of Spaniards who attempted to colonize Florida end up in a battle of survival. The survivors end up walking across most of North America.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: Cabeza de Vaca and his fellow survivors ended up crossing the lower U.S. from Florida to about Arizona or so. In 1528. I wouldn’t even do that now.

Fun Fact for History Nerds: This is the same fact as above. I didn’t even know this happened. You would think this would merit at least a passing mention in elementary school books. “Wake up kids, wait until you hear about THIS!”

The survivors end up being slaves and traveling salesmen/doctors. Yes, in that order.

Book vs. Book: Both books tell this story pretty well. Honestly, it would be hard to screw this up because the basic facts are insane.

If you are very against imperialism and colonization, then this book is for you! A bunch of Spaniards go looking for their fortune. They get a little lax with their security after landing because the locals can’t do much right? Oh, and food won’t be a problem! What could possibly go wrong?

They started in 1528 with a few hundred people. 4 survived and made it back to civilization sometime in 1536. Now that’s a hell of a detour.

Both authors really make you feel the hardships from beginning to end. The searing and ungodly Florida heat in armor. The bugs. The swamps. Why does anyone go to Florida?

Verdict: A Land So Strange by a nose! Both of these books are good, I just liked Resendez’s approach better.

If You Liked This Try:

  • Peter Stark, Astoria
  • Mike Dash, Batavia’s Graveyard
  • Michael Wallis, The Best Land Under Heaven
  • Buddy Levy, Conquistador
  • Stephen R. Brown, Island of the Blue Foxes
  • Joan Druett, Island of the Lost
  • William Carlsen, Jungle of Stone
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Battle of the Books: A Land So Strange by Andres Resendez Vs. Brutal Journey by Paul Schneider
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