Born in Granada in 1488, his family fled the Inquisition and took him to the city of Fez in North Africa. He became an itinerant merchant and made many journeys to the East, ones rich in adventure and observation. He was captured by a Sicilian pirate and taken back to Rome as a gift to Pope Leo X, who baptized him Johannes Leo. While in Rome, he wrote the first trilingual dictionary (Latin, Arabic, and Hebrew), as well as his celebrated Description of Africa. "Leo Africanus is a beautiful book of tales about people who are forced to accept choices made for them by someone else…It relates, poetically at times and often imaginatively, the story of those who did not make it to the New World," said the New York Times Book Review.