If anyone is really interested in the “real Columbus” I recommend Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem by Prof. Carol Delaney (or look on YouTube for talks by or interviews of her concerning her book).
The current revisionist history about Columbus, the Terrible, equal of Cortez and Pizarro as well as Genghis Khan and Hitler, is even more myth than the old flat earth one, and has been cooked up out of self-righteous posturing and political correctness as much as incompetent scholarship by Howard Zinn, Kirkpatrick Sales, Hans Konig, and now Mombiot, plus many others who parrot such views to feel as if they have the “true history”. The facts to be gathered from his Journal, letters and Spanish documents tell us that he, for his part, generally admired and had good relations with the natives but could never control the rapacity and brutality of the men under him. He often instructed them in person and in letters not to take from or abuse the Indians or rape their women, that the Indians were good people who had been hospitable and helpful whose respect must not be lost. (The only natives he could not get along with and made war on, and enslaved, were the Caribs, a tribe who were the bullies of the region and enemies of his Taino Indian friends, and cannibals worst of all.) A criticism often made of him is, that he was not a good administrator. The Spanish crown relieved him of that function after they determined he had been unjustly hauled back to Spain in chains for executing and abusing, not Indians, but Spaniards for their rapacious and murderous insubordination. He was, however, otherwise admired and sent back to the New World to continue his explorations twice more. As his Journals testify, he was a great explorer and navigator and are full of his uncontainable wonder and excitement and keen observations of everything he saw, the people, plants, animals, and the coasts of what he began briefly to think was not of Asia, the Indies, but an unknown new continent.
Another worthwhile book one might look into is, Columbus on Himself, an autobiographical compilation of his writings, journals and letters, edited and interestingly footnoted, .by the great Spanish historian Felipe Hernandez Armesto. To understand Columbus, in relation to the new world he opened for Europeans, as well as new age his discovery initiated in humanity’s history, our complicated Modern Age, one must discover him in context (as we people who really study and care about history say).