Author: John Noble Wilford

Journalist and author John Noble Wilford (b. 1933) was born in Murray, Kentucky and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a BS in journalism before taking a masters degree in political science from Syracuse University. After working at the Wall Street Journal and Time, Wilford joined the New York Times, eventually becoming the newspaper’s senior science correspondent. He received the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Apollo mission in 1984 and again for his coverage of the Challenger disaster in 1987. In addition to working as a journalist, he has authored several books on navigation history, space exploration, and a history of Christopher Columbus as a mythic figure. 

Discovering Columbus

John Noble Wilford

Compared with their predecessors, recent historians and cultural critics have been much less friendly to the idea of heroes and individual greatness, and Columbus has not escaped this revisionist treatment. In this 1991 essay, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author John Noble Wilford (b. 1933) chronicles the changing reputation of Columbus, arguing that Columbus’ standing is mainly a mirror of the changing prejudices and cultural attitudes of society. Yet he also appears to want to separate the man from his changing mythical reputation, to know Columbus as “he really was.”