DISCOVERING THE AMERICAS: THE ARCHIVE OF THE INDIES, general editor Pedro González García (Vendome Press, 312 pages, $75.00).

Using the collections of Spain’s General Archive of the Indies, which includes many documents relating to the discovery of the American continent, archives director Gonzáles García brings together the meticulous records kept by explorers, shippers, traders, geographers, soldiers, priests, settlers and government officials from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. This splendidly illustrated book contains correspondence, published here for the first time, between Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) and Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, as well as the royal warrant authorizing Columbus’s first voyage, issued by the Spanish monarchs in 1492, and the explorer’s accounts of his four voyages. Artwork includes depictions of the original inhabitants of the Americas, sixteenth-century maps showing the Spanish-colonial expansion in the New World, a 1734 drawing of the city of San Francisco de Quito, and sketches and paintings of the exotic flora and fauna found in the Americas. Other documents relate to trade and commerce and include reports from missionaries on shipwrecks and lost treasure. All in all, a fascinating look into one of the most important archives in the world.