Looking for De Soto
A Search Through the South for the Spaniard's Trail

Joyce Rockwood Hudson


"This is not a scholar's but rather a reader's book, a kind of archaeological Blue Highways that conveys sights, sounds, and people met along the way with a novelist's eye for character and telling detail."
Journal of Southern History

"If you are interested in the story of De Soto, if you are interested in the pursuit of history, or if you are interested in the South, this is a book worth reading."
Florida Historical Quarterly

"Sometimes a book or work appears that combines the wisdom of a layman with the wisdom of a scholar's concerns. This volume is a beautiful, thoughtful gem of that sort."
Alabama Review

"A warmly humane travel story about rural and small-town life from Florida to Texas. Descriptions of the region's ever changing terrain, vegetation, and climate fill the book, along with troubled musings about Americans' increasing disconnection from the land and lack of reverence for the past. Conveying the rewards and frustrations of lives spent in painstaking scholarly inquiry, Looking for De Soto also offers a firsthand glimpse into the daily work of anthropologists and archaeologists: the exchanges of ideas, the ventures through swamps and down deeply rutted farm roads, the endless poring over maps, charts, and notes. As if writing a detective story, Hudson suspensefully paces the narrative with the accrual of geographical, artifactual, and documentary evidence, punctuating it with false leads and other setbacks as mile after mile of the trail is redrawn."
Latin American Perspectives

"Hudson, calling herself a 'knowledgeable layman,' accompanied her anthropologist husband, Charles, on a six-week trip in 1984 to locate Hernando De Soto's route through the United States in 1540. This book is Hudson's daily journal of their travels: how they worked out De Soto's route using four contemporary yet conflicting chronicles and current archaeological research. Until more aboriginal sites are excavated, the exact De Soto trail remains hypothesis; theirs is a more credible route than John R. Swanton's Final Report of the U.S. De Soto Expedition Commission. The book was published as Hudson wrote it; updated segments of the route appear only in the epilog. This is a fine, nontechnical snapshot of an investigation-in-progress."
Library Journal

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In 1984, Joyce Rockwood Hudson accompanied her husband, anthropologist Charles Hudson, on a four-thousand-mile trek across the Southeast. His objective was to retrace and verify the route taken by Hernando De Soto four and a half centuries earlier. The effort would bring into question, and ultimately supplant, much of what was earlier thought to be the course of the Spanish explorer's journey. Looking for De Soto is the journal Joyce Hudson kept, a warmly humane account of the people they met and the places they saw as they searched for De Soto's trail beneath railroad tracks and two-lane blacktops, along riverbanks and mountain ridges, from Florida to Texas. Part travelogue, part scholarly detective story, Looking for De Soto offers a firsthand glimpse into the daily wok of anthropologists and archaeologists.
Page count: 254 pp.
11 maps
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $26.95

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Joyce Rockwood Hudson is the author of five works of fiction, including Apalachee (Georgia), and one other work of nonfiction, Natural Spirituality: Recovering the Wisdom Tradition in Christianity.