Admiral of the Ocean Sea
By: Samuel Eliot Morison
Little, Brown, and Company, 1942
In Admiral of the Ocean Sea, Morison gives a comprehensive biography of the life of Christopher Columbus. Apparently, Morison (who was a prolific author of the time and would win the Pulitzer again in 1960) was well known for the authority and readability of this books. I would emphasize the authority over the readability for this book.
Morison was a Rear Admiral in the United States Navy and was, therefore, probably so familiar with maritime history that I believe it would have been impossible for him to completely bring it down to layman's terms. I was able to follow generally, but was often lost in his descriptions of boat and ringings and winds and such. There were also a large number of references to names and places that I was unfamiliar with. To be fair, I did listen to a recording of this book and think that was a big source of the problems I had in following along. It would have helped greatly to have a map in front of me.
Morison did an excellent job of describing what are commonly thought to be Columbus's routes of travel. To research for the book he chartered a boat and actually sailed these routes himself. Interestingly, there is an overlay of the narrative of this trip on top of the story of Columbus's life. I would recommend this book to any reader interested in the history of explorers but would definitely suggest reading a physical copy instead of listening to the audio!