1492: New Revised Edition: A Novel of Christopher Columbus, the Spanish Inquisition & A World at the Turning Point Reviewed By Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.
He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.
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Author: Newton Frohlich
Publisher: Blue Bird Press
The Spanish Government in 2014 enacted a law in favor of their Jewish descendants enabling them to apply for dual citizenship in order to “compensate for shameful events in the country's past.” The past referred to was the Spanish Inquisition which involved the horrendous murdering of Jews as well as converted Jews and the carrying out of the Alhambra Decree (also known as the Edict of Expulsion). The decree enacted in 1492 targeted eight hundred thousand Jews and gave the Jews, who had lived in Spain for over one thousand years, four months notice to leave the country.
Newton Frohlich's 1492: New Revised Edition: A Novel of Christopher Columbus, the Spanish Inquisition & A World at the Turning Point digs deeper into the world of Spain and Columbus and unveils facts that were not well-known. Sure, we may know that he was an Italian explorer from Genoa who set sail in 1492 to enrich Spain with gold and spices from the Orient. But is this all we know? How about his passion to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims? How about the fact that he had signed a contract with the queen and king of Spain pertaining to his discovery of America which called for him not only to be designated “Admiral of the Ocean Sea” but also to receive a substantial percentage of the profits from trade with the “New World.” Incidentally, it had taken Columbus and his heirs over three hundred years to enforce the contract. Then there is a question of Columbus's true identity which he was forced to hide as he was quite fearful of the Inquisition. In Spain Columbus was known as Cristóbal Colón and he did not speak Italian. His last will and testament contained five curious and revealing provisions which seemed to imply that he was of Jewish origin.
Frohlich's storytelling gifts and extensive research over a period of eight years are amply confirmed thanks to expertly voiced narration as well as his mastery evocation of time and place. As mentioned in the Preface, Frohlich informs his readers that having discovered the truth of Columbus's background as well as his personal and financial motives for his voyage, he felt compelled to write the story not as a scholarly treatise but rather as a novel with vivid color making the events come alive. He has succeeded splendidly bringing to life many of the actors who had played a role at the time such as the Barcelona banker, Luis de Santangel and his relationship with Columbus, who under pressure helped his family escape the Inquisition. Others include the Diego de Susan family, Isaac Abravanel, Columbus's Jewish mistress, Beatriz, his children, his wife Filipa, his brother Bartolomeo, Queen Isabella, King Ferdinand, Mouley Ali Aben Hassan, Caliph of Granada, Ponce de Leon, Fray Tomás de Torquemada, Vincent de Santangel, and others. It should also be pointed out that Frohlich debunks some of the myths that have been passed on over the years such as the fact that contrary to what was believe, Isabel did not sell her jewels to finance Columbus's voyage.
As a side note, my wife is a Sephardi Jewess and can now apply for Spanish citizenship as she is able to trace her ancestry back to Spain. When I asked her if she intended to do so, her reply was “thanks but no thanks.” She further went onto to say, that she would not want to become a Spanish citizen in view of the horrendous killing of Jews during the time of the Inquisition and the Alhambra Decree. After reading this novel, it is little wonder why she would not be interested in becoming a Spanish citizen.