Monday, January 20, 2014

New Found World, by Katherine Shippen

I tried, I truly did, but I couldn't engage myself enough in the subject matter of each chapter to finish this one.  But I'll summarize what I've got!

The book as a whole is concerned with the entire history of the Americas (quite ambitious for a children's book of around 250 pages).  It begins by discussing some of the earliest cultures of Latin America in particular.  From there it describes the impact that the region's "discovery" by European traders and settlers had on the cultures, and how the lives of the native people were changed.

Beyond this point the chapters become much more specific in content, although continuing to proceed generally chronologically.  Chapters include such diverse topics as the missionary work of Father Kino, attempts at revolt against European-based governments, and the eventually liberation and development of a number of different nations.  Since this seemed like more of a useful reference work to me, rather than a narrative to be followed from beginning to end, I simply didn't have to motivation to finish.  Some of the subject matter has no doubt been disproven in the intervening decades, and some of the topics are handled much more lightly than we would today (for example, the "import" of African slaves, but you can only ask so much of a book published before the Civil Rights era).  But the book is thoroughly researched and has both a comprehensive bibliography and an index at the end, which still makes it reasonably adequate to keep around for school projects.

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