It is a journey through wondrous words that begins with Columbus's earliest explorations when he first "tests the heft and roundness of this earth against his infant head" by stepping from the edge of his rocking cradle to come up short on the boards of the nursery floor. Finley charts a course for us through the days at sea, through the voyage itself, its records and commentaries, into the fraught territory of Columbus' imaginary "Indies" and the representation of this New World on his return to Spain. This incisive and luminescent story, scrupulously grounded in sixteenth-century sources, illuminates the power that "naming" has to create a world - in this case a world still haunted by being the accidental Indies. It is a book about how we perceive and represent the world around us, about the creative and destructive power of language. Through its elaboration of the rich and lively ironies of the Columbus story, The Accidental Indies looks at the nature of storytelling itself.