Reviews of the book


Esteban: The African Slave Who Explored America

“A well-crafted and thorough synthesis of the existing documentary evidence and the most recent scholarly speculations regarding the life of the black African Moor who played a pivotal role in the earliest Spanish reconnaissance of what is now the southern United States and northwest Mexico.”
—Richard Flint, author of No Settlement, No Conquest: A History of the Coronado Entrada

“Dennis Herrick has written a book that offers a fresh perspective on one of the most elusive men in early American history. One of the four survivors of the disastrous Narváez expedition of 1528, Esteban traveled from Florida...into Mexico....Herrick shifts the emphasis of this epic journey from Cabeza de Vaca to Esteban, giving him the credit denied him by generations of Eurocentric scholars....Herrick argues persuasively that the Odyssey of Cabeza de Vaca was also the Odyssey of Esteban.”
—Abraham Hoffman, in Roundup, the magazine of the Western Writers of America

"How have African slaves been included [in early histories]?....Usually not at all....That fascinating tale [about Esteban]  is recounted in detail, and very engagingly, by Herrick....This [Esteban: The African Slave Who Explored America] is therefore a highly readable book....[Herrick] has a keen instinct for confirmation bias, for a distorted or invented or prejudicial interpretation or supposed fact, thereby lending this book a consistent thread of skeptical inquiry. He quickly spots Eurocentrism in the traditional narratives, but unpacks it carefully, without recourse to rhetoric or rant....And he explains why Esteban's death at the hands of the Zuni seems unlikely, without leading us into a conclusion for which there is no direct evidence [for either side]....Herrick's ability to sweep the reader along while still managing to question every detail simply makes Esteban all the more welcome.
The Journal of Arizona History

"Dennis Herrick's Esteban: The African Slave Who Explored America takes a new approach to understanding the importance of Esteban. His masters obscured and distorted his history and contributions because he was a slave. He was the indispensable man, a healer and ambassador, in Cabeza de Vaca's 16th-century journey from Florida to Sonora. The Zuni may not have killed him .... The stories of his death conflict with each other. Clearly, he was a hero and nort a villain."
--Doug Hocking, in True West magazine

"Books about the history of the American West have ignored Esteban or belittled his importance, often using his slave nickname, Estebanico. What little we know about Esteban comes from Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca and other Spanish chroniclers, whose condescension toward the African slave has carried over into most history books. In this work Herrick dispels the myths and outright lies about Esteban. His biography emphasizes Esteban rather than the Spaniards whose exploits are often exaggerated and jingoistic in the sixteenth-century chronicles. He gives Esteban full credit for his courage and his skill as a linguist and cultural intermediary who was trusted and respected by Indians from many tribes across the continent."
--Skylight Books, Los Angeles

"Recent books of interest to African American scholars [include] Esteban: The African Slave Who Explored America."
--The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

"Some of the best books in Western history and fiction are published in the last quarter of the year. They are just in time for the holidays but not early enough to be reviewed. Here is a selection I recommend: Esteban: The African Slave Who Explored America by Dennis Herrick.
--Best of the West magazine

"[This book's] research concerning the first black explorer of North America, and the first non-Native American to enter today’s Arizona and New Mexico, is the most comprehensive examination yet of the facts and myths surrounding this important figure in American history."
—James MacDougald, author of The Pánfilo de Narváez Expedition of 1528

" 'The first white man our people saw was a black man.' That quote by [the late] Dr. Joe S. Sando, historian from Jemez Pueblo, begins this biography as an epigram, and captures the enigma of a man and his story....Dennis Herrick mines the original Spanish documents [in Esteban: The African Slave Who Explored America]. He tells the tale anew here as a biography of the slave Esteban....Herrick takes on several themes in the exploration of this fascinating life—the racial bias not only of Esteban's first historian, Cabeza de Vaca, but the racism of historians that followed over hundreds of years."
--Pete Warzel, The Historic Santa Fe Foundation

"I really enjoyed this book. While reading, I anxiously awaited the chronicles of Esteban’s life as an explorer in North America. After a few chapters that laid the foundation for his adventures, I was captivated reading about Esteban’s life and his involvement in the exploration. Herrick's’ book aims to chronicle Esteban’s part in our history and to portray a more accurate picture of Esteban and the explorers he accompanied."
--Craig Carter, Amazon reviewer

"It is a fascinating story; Esteban’s accomplishments need to be acknowledged.  Thank you for your important research and your wonderful book."
--Gail, New Mexico reader

"In his diligently researched biography, Esteban: The African Slave Who Explored America, Dennis Herrick demonstrates how the powerless don’t get much acknowledgement in history. Esteban, who became the first person from the Old World to enter what is now the American Southwest of Arizona and New Mexico, is certainly a worthy historical figure....The biography is a product of scholarship that should be required reading in university studies of the American Southwest and Latin America. For non-scholarly readers, the story of the African slave teaches that strength of mind and body, diligence and the willingness to learn, combined with fortuitous good fortune, can propel achievement beyond expectations."
--Tim Coder, author of War Without End, Amen

 "I love your book [Esteban: The African Slave Who Explored America]. You've done such great research there, checking out Morroccan histories, etc. That book is bound to become a key resource on that subject."
--Lawrence R. Gustin, author of David Buick's Marvelous Motor Car and of Billy Durant: Creator of General Motors