Beyond 1492

Beyond 1492 : Encounters in Colonial North America

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In this provocative and timely collection of essays-five published for the first time-one of the most important ethnohistorians writing today, James Axtell, explores the key role of imagination both in our perception of strangers and in the writing of history. Coinciding with the 500th anniversary of Columbus's "discovery" of America, this collection covers a wide range of topics dealing with American history. Three essays view the invasion of North America from the perspective of the Indians, whose land it was. The very first meetings, he finds, were nearly always peaceful. Other essays describe native encounters with colonial traders-creating "the first consumer revolution"-and Jesuit missionaries in Canada and Mexico. Despite the tragedy of many of the encounters, Axtell also finds that there was much humor in Indian-European negotiations over peace, sex, and war. In the final section he conducts searching analyses of how college textbooks treat the initial century of American history, how America's human face changed from all brown in 1492 to predominantly white and black by 1792, and how we handled moral questions during the Quincentenary.
He concludes with an extensive review of the Quincentenary scholarship-books, films, TV, and museum exhibits-and suggestions for how we can assimilate what we have learned.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 400 pages
  • 139.2 x 207.3 x 29.7mm | 547.41g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 21 line drawings
  • 0195080335
  • 9780195080339

Back cover copy

In this provocative and timely collection of essays--five published for the first time---one of the most important ethnohistorians writing today, James Axtell, explores the key role of imagination both in our perception of strangers and in the writing of history.
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Review quote

"Axtell makes clear that, if done well and with sound purpose, the examination of the issues of the Quincentenary is indeed worthwhile and enlightening."-The Americas "Axtell is a provocative, valuable, and interesting writer."-Journal of Interdisciplinary History "Beyond 1492 offers profound and thought-provoking discussion of issues that are central to the historian's craft."-Journal of Social History "The appearance of James Axtell's third volume confirms a success that arises in large part from the author's considerable erudition, his subtle and engaging style, and his passionate humanism....[Beyond 1492] continues the author's vital contributions to our understanding of the encounters that have shaped America's last five hundred years."-William and Mary Quarterly "James Axtell offers insightful interpretations of the European encounter with New World cultures....[His] work provocatively challenges the reader to rethink how we view history....A lively discussion of North America's ethnographical and historiographical traditions."-Colonial Latin American Historical Review "Axtell displays a mastery of the sources, provides thought-provoking insights, and writes with a clarity and elegance that make him a pleasure to read again and again....Axtell is both advocate and exemplar of the art of making history accessible and enjoyable....For more than a decade, James Axtell has been offering food for thought on the history of Indian and European encounters in colonial America. It is elegantly served and easily digested."-Reviews in
American History "[Axtell] does not disappoint. Where others with less ability might fall into the politically correct pattern, Axtell maintains the scholar's perspective, well informed and logically presented. Because Axtell attempts to move beyond a limited view of the contact, he is able to see relationships between Europeans and indigenous peoples with realism."-Gerald M. Schnabel, Bemidji State Univ. "A thought-provoking collection of essays; to be read far beyond 1992."-P.J. Furlong, Indiana University "Refreshing alternative to traditional texts. Provides refreshing breadth to issues only alluded to in 99% of available texts pertinent to the study of colonial America."-Dr. Patrick Lampman, Biola University "Very helpful and imaginative."-Rosa B. Lewis, Lourdes College "An excellent text for classroom use....very accessible for students."-Michael Goldberg, Univ. of Washington, Bothell "Informative and most interesting in its exploration of the Indians' experiences in early cultural encounters."-Carter Jones Meyer, Ramapo College, Mahway, New Jersey "Excellent-all the way through."-Joseph V. Ellis, Trenton State College "At last a rational approach to a passionate subject! Beyond 1492 is 'must' reading for those teachers too busy to sort out all of the considerations involved but who have, nevertheless, the ability to understand and appreciate from their own knowledge the cogent arguments presented and discuss them intelligently with students at all levels."-Edward V. Richards, Bob Jones University "Balanced, insightful, and full of provocative interpretations. Its ethnic sensitivity is never strident politicization of any issue, but cautious, informed scholarship."-Brian E. Strayer, Andrews University "A series of exceptionally fine essays."-The Louisville Courier-Journal "A wonderful volume."-Elizabeth Parent, San Francisco State University "Axtell has the rare ability to write about the European presence in America without the hand-wringing of the Left or the clenched fist of the Right. The eleven essays here...are fresh, engrossing, challenging, and entertaining."-Virginia Quarterly Review "A most admirable and valuable addition to my supplementary required reading for my survey course in American history to 1865."-William M. Neil, Indiana University Northwest "Those who want a readable and informed introduction to some of the concerns of contemporary Encounter historians, this is a good place to begin."-The New York Review of Books
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Rating details

27 ratings
3.77 out of 5 stars
5 26% (7)
4 41% (11)
3 22% (6)
2 7% (2)
1 4% (1)
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