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A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies Paperback – February 24, 2010
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Bartolomé de Las Casas, born in 1474, came to Cuba with Diego Velázquez's expedition in 1511 as a soldier. In Cuba, he became an "encomendero", receiving Indian labor parcelled out to the conquistadors. The horrors of the conquest of the Caribbean sparked a religious conversion in him and he became a Dominican friar in 1515. Soon, he made his way to the Central American mainland, where he started missionary work among the Maya in Guatemala. Dubbed later "The Apostle to the Indians" for his work on their behalf, he was eventually appointed Bishop of Chiapas. An intimate friend of the Indians, fluent in their languages, Las Casas witnessed Spanish cruelties perpetrated against them between the very year of his arrival and some years before his death in Spain in 1566.
In 1552, Las Casas published his empassioned "Short Account" (actually written 13 years earlier), in which he laid bare Spanish cruelties in America. Though generally condemned as slander in Spain, the book rapidly became popular in the rest of Europe, where it served to fuel anti-Spanish hate. Spain's enemies used it to depict Spaniards as evil tyrants and to rationalize carving out their own empires in the Americas. New editions appeared repeatedly, even as late as 1898, during the Spanish-American War.
Few credible historians take the "Account" for gospel truth. Much of what Las Casas says is certainly true. And while the rest is exaggerated, it is not "propaganda".Read more ›
That's not to say that Casas was perfect, at least by modern standards. In his view, one of the worst aspects of the wholesale slaughter of the Indians was that they would go straight to Hell, since they never heard the gospel or received the sacraments. Moreover, he never questioned the right of the Spanish to be there, or of Pope Alexander VI to grant sovereignty of the Americas to Spain and Portugal. So the fact that the book became central to the "black legend" was in spite of Casas' beliefs, not because of them.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found the book nothing more than a new history created by the global elite, to demonize the white race. Read morePublished 19 days ago by jack rogen
History has been written wrong! Tainos still exist, they were never extinct. They were smart enough to hide in caves from their oppressors all over the Caribbean.Published 23 days ago by Kandie404
Sadly, the quality of the Kindle version doesn't live up to the Penguin Classic standards you may be used to. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Gianni Reb
Very good book. Quick read and very insightful for understanding what was happening to the indigenous people during the Conquest.Published 4 months ago by littlebit0628
While de las Casas is hailed as a saviour for the Indigenous people of the Caribbean, he was the major promoter of the African slave trade. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Luisah Teish
Excellent book for history or Ethnic studies to at least show the other side of the Native,Mexican@-Chican@ history or story!!!!?Published 8 months ago by nexus avelar
A chilling account of the first stages of colonization in America. The author was a friar following The Spanish troops during their settlement in the West Indies, one of the few... Read morePublished 8 months ago by lory lanfranchi
Interesting, an almost first hand account of someone who had at least some sensitivity towards the indegenous population. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Ricardo Leon