In 1528, a Spanish military expedition floundered going from present-day Florida to Texas. Attacked by Indians and fever, the starving, naked Spaniards resorted to cannibalism. Then things started to get weird. Taken captive by Indians, four survivors gained reputations as healers who could raise the dead — and eventually led a ”traveling medicine show” clear to the Pacific with thousands of followers. Paul Schneider’s riveting account of the trek, Brutal Journey, based on expedition members’ memoirs, incorporates historical and archaeological research without stalling the story’s epic sweep. As the arrogant conquistadors become first slaves and then shamans appalled at fellow Spaniards’ cruelty, the psychological distances they travel are as vast as the continent they cross.