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Books examine Columbus _ the man and the legends

Today is the official observance of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World 500 years ago. This particular observance is much different in tone from previous ones because present-day historians tend to view the admiral and his accomplishments in a different light.

The style of historians and biographers has changed dramatically. In the past, it was common for historians and biographers to glamorize their subjects to make reading them more palatable.

If you are confused about the conflict between Columbus as the conquering hero and the newer, less gentle version of Columbus as a murderous villain, the library has recently added several new and informative titles to the collection.

Columbus and the Crowns by David Bowen (Corona, 1991) is an abridgement of William H. Prescott's History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. Prescott, a renowned historian, viewed Columbus as a talented but stubborn man; a brave and magnificent explorer, if not a particularly humane one. He recounts the complaints of genocide received by Ferdinand and Isabella and the investigation which followed.

America Discovers Columbus by Claudia L. Bushman (University Press of New England, 1992) traces the various incarnations of Columbus in myth and legend as he was continuously reinvented in different images to suit the political or cultural needs of the time.

Columbus Was Last by Patrick Huyghe (Hyperion, 1992). Did you ever wonder where the people came from who were here when Columbus explored the Atlantic shores? Huyghe's study goes back to 200,000 B.C., and follows the development and colonization of more than 500 tribes that were already living on the continent in 1492.

Friends of the Library

The public is invited to attend the Friends of the Library meeting at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 21 in the Main Library Auditorium. The library staff will demonstrate the new automated system.

Main Library displays

Sheree Rensel of the City's Fire Prevention department has designed a fire safety display to observe Fire Prevention Week, which was last week. The display will remain at the library through the end of the month. Identify the two mystery items and become eligible for a drawing to win a smoke detector.

The St. Petersburg Stamp Club display, also in the lobby, is an impressive array. The display, which commemorates National Stamp Collecting Month, contains special collections of stamps from France and Africa, Statue of Liberty stamps and stamps to draw attention to the AIDS epidemic.

On the east wall of the lobby, a glass display case contains six wood and canvas models handcrafted by Bruce Peattie. Among these unique models are a sloop, a Norwegian fishing vessel and a Chinese junk.