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America in 1492: The World of the Indian Peoples Before the Arrival of Columbus Paperback – February 2, 1993

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America in 1492: The World of the Indian Peoples Before the Arrival of Columbus + The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest (American Heritage Library) + Lewis and Clark Through Indian Eyes: Nine Indian Writers on the Legacy of the Expedition
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a concerted effort to quash myths and stereotypes, Josephy assembles essays by noted writers and scholars that depict Native American culture at the time of Columbus's first voyage to the Americas. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-- The perspective presented in Josephy's introduction sets the tone for this collection of articles by well-known scholars. While he notes the costs of arrogant European ethnocentrism to Native Americans, he establishes a balanced view that rejects both ``noble savage'' and ``debased human'' stereotypes. His bias is evident, however, in his use of ``holocaust'' to refer to the destruction of Indian culture as well as in his labeling of the first section, ``We the People, 1492.'' The selection of articles and the book's organization make it useful to students given specialized assignments as well as to those who wish in-depth knowledge of the pre-Columbian world. The book is well indexed and contains an annotated, chapter referenced bibliography. Chapters include information on pre-Columbian life, including aspects of social structure, customs, and achievements. Frequent reference is made to the fact that much of what we know is but the remnants of what occurred, recorded at a later period and altered by time and encounter. While the various articles indentify commonalities among native cultures, they dispel the view of all native traditions as one.
- Carol Wansong, Lee High School, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (February 2, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679743375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679743378
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.3 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #358,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Smallchief on April 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
"America in 1492" is a collection of 14 essays, mostly by anthropologists, about the Indians of the Americas just before the voyages of Christopher Columbus. The editor contributes an introduction and the well-known Indian scholar Vine Deloria, Jr. adds an afterword.

The book is attractive and its premise is superb: to describe the American Indians before their traditional life and culture were destroyed by the Europeans. But the book is not quite as good as it should be. The subject, ranging over two continents, is too broad to be covered adequately in one volume. The contributors are mostly anthropologists and the breadth of their vision is often restricted. Political correctness creeps into some essays. A description of the Aztecs trips quickly over the gory subject of human sacrifice -- widely practiced by the Aztecs and a central theme of their religion.

Moreover, the approach of most writers is anthropological and historical information is mostly ignored. Within 50 years of 1492, the Spanish and other explorers encountered Indians from Newfoundland to Tierra del Fuego and their eye-witness accounts, however brief and biased, are invaluable. The integration of these early historic accounts with anthropological information would result in much more vivid and realistic descriptions of the Indians in 1492. Alas, many of the authors rely on their own anthropologicial speciality, ignoring the eye-witness accounts of Cabeza de Vaca and the expeditions of De Soto and Coronado, among others, which could add materially to the validity of their accounts.

Finally, there is the afterword by DeLoria, the author of the best-selling, "Custer Died For Your Sins." In a thoughtful, interesting, but rambling essay, DeLoria introduces some fantastic notions.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Diane Schirf on April 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
In America in 1492: The World of the Indian Peoples Before the Arrival of Columbus, editor Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., presents a series of essays that dispel the popular idea that the American continents were sparsely populated by primitive hunter-gatherers (or, after Hollywood, Plains Indians whooping on horseback). These essays, written by contributors such as Alan Kolata and Peter Nabokov, reveal the breadth and depth of Indian language, culture, arts, spirituality, and life ways. Part One covers the continents geographically, from northern Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, while Part Two examines language, religion, family and tribal or clan life, migration and cultural influence, systems of knowledge, and the arts. Renowned Native American writers N. Scott Momaday and Vine Deloria, Jr., contribute the first chapter, "The Becoming of the Native: Man in America Before Columbus," and the afterword, respectively.

The weaknesses of the approach are evident; some essays are stronger than others, depending on the writer's skill and bias and on the material available. Some contradict one another. In "In the Realm of the Four Quarters," Kolata's admiration for the success of the Inca empire is nearly boundless, while in "American Frontiers," Francis Jennings doubts the real strength of the empire over its conquered subjects and its economic, political, and military sustainability. Such a survey book can cover only so much information, and, not surprisingly, the Aztecs and Incas are more prominent than, for example, the nations that make up the Iroquois Confederacy.

Another weakness is focus, perhaps driven by lack of information in critical areas.
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America in 1492: The World of the Indian Peoples Before the Arrival of... arrived on time priced perfect in good condition very happy with purchase from start to finish cheers
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By Richard J. Bergeron on January 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We have to teach honest history. Too few people know what the native nations were like before European diseases and the conquest. This is a start.
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