Thesis: The author posits that the derivative of a tragically unsuccessful colonization effort results with an epic ten-year odyssey of survival, assimilation, and revelation as the first Old World outsiders to athwart and live in the interior of North America. The culmination of the experiences of Cabeza de Vaca, man of influence, stranded in unexplored lands, encountering and existing with countless Native American tribes as guest, slave, trader, and healer engenders an atypical ideal of humane colonization and coexistence.
Summary: Resendez retells the story of the ill-fated Narvaez expedition to Florida, placing the survivors story against the context of contemporary Spanish politics, culture, and power struggles associated with colonization amid the pre-contact Native American sphere. The stage is set with a brief description of the relationships of Velazquez, Narvaez, Cortes, and the Spanish court (15,17, 22). This background information clarifies the near impenetrability of obtaining a royal charter and the complicated, perfidious, and competitive maneuverings of the Spanish explorers (30-33). Cortes’ alleged treachery becomes heroic conquest slighting competitors Velazquez and Narvaez who after years of petitions receives an adelantamiento in the New World (73). The expedition, three plus hundred men and women, lead by Narvaez experiences a litany of encumbrances that resulted in the unrealized and in due course unpropitious landing at Tampa Bay, over nine hundred miles off course (77). A landing party of three hundred men, including Cabeza de Vaca, set out to find Panuco, encountered Native Americans that enticed the group to search for prosperous Apalachee further north (94). By this time the group was suffering severely from hunger, disease, and at the hands of Native Americans, driven by desperation rafts were built to