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During the Spanish Civil War a German anarchist and historian serving with the International Brigade discovered an account of how a Florentine nun led a mission to Hayti, Spain’s first American colony, two decades after its ‘discovery’ by Christopher Columbus. But she also had a secret assignment – to find out if the passage through to Asia depicted on a world map published by the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller actually existed.
During her investigations, she meets up with Fray Hugo de Montenegro, a Dominican monk who has been there for several years and has been collecting accounts of Spanish atrocities; and she comes into contact with Taíno freedom fighters and their allies, escaped African slaves who had been imported to work on the new sugar plantations, as well as to the attention of the brutal colonial authorities.
The narrative unfolds against the background of the horrors of the Spanish Conquest of the Americas, the destruction of its original peoples, the commencement of the Atlantic slave trade and the beginnings of globalisation with the foundation of the Spanish Empire. But is it a factual account or the first work of fiction written in the Americas?
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