This riveting true story is the first major narrative detailing the exploration of North America by Spanish conquistadors (1528-1536). The author, Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, was a fortune-seeking Spanish nobleman and the treasurer of an expedition sent to claim for Spain a vast area of today's southern United States. In simple, straightforward prose, Cabeza de Vaca chronicles the nine-year odyssey endured by the men after a shipwreck forced them to make a westward journey on foot from present-day Florida through Louisiana and Texas into California. In thirty-eight brief chapters, Cabeza de Vaca describes the scores of natural and human obstacles they encountered as they made their way across an unknown land. Cabeza de Vaca's gripping account offers a trove of ethnographic information, including descriptions and interpretations of native cultures, making it a powerful precursor to modern anthropology.