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American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World Paperback – November 18, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0195085570 ISBN-10: 0195085574 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (November 18, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195085574
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195085570
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Stannard (history, Univ. of Hawaii-Manoa), whose previous works include Shrinking History: On Freud and the Failure of Psychohistory ( LJ 6/1/80) and Before the Horror: The Population of Hawaii on the Eve of Western Contact (Univ. of Hawaii Pr., 1989), turns his attention to the devastating impact of the European intrusion into the New World. He argues that with more than 100 million people the Americas were not the unpopulated open spaces so often described and notes the squalor and disease that dominated Europe in contrast to the relative peace and harmony that prevailed in the New World. The arrival of the Spanish and other Europeans, he argues, brought about a demographic disaster of incredible proportions--the largest genocide in history--as a result of disease and depredation, as well as through enslavement and outright massacre. Though Stannard tends to gloss over violence and intertribal warfare in pre-Columbian America and accepts accounts of Spanish atrocities by early chroniclers as well as high population estimates for pre-Columbian America, his is a carefully researched, well-written monograph based on the latest secondary sources. A provocative account for public and academic libraries.
- Brian E. Coutts, Western Kentucky Univ. Libs., Bowling Green
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A splendid antidote to those many books on American Indian policy that tend to ignore the realities of the subject."--Journal of American Ethnic History

"Superb scholarship and compellingly accessible presentation."--Professor Benjamin R. Tong, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies

"American Holocaust isa substantial addition to the library of injustice toward American Natives....From an ethical standpoint, works such as Stannard's are necessary to counterbalance the ethnocentricities of past historical works on Natives. From an academic standpoint, the book is an interdisciplinary monument. The author has taken an incredible amount of data and applied contemporary anthropological, demographic, and historical techniques to synthesize a comprehensive piece of scholarship. American Holocaust will provide a desireble textbook for students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Finally, scholars of Indian-white relations from various disciplines will find the book a valuable resource in terms of method and content."--Samuel R. Cook, American Indian Quarterly."

"An important work that will have [Stannard] canonized by some and pillored by others by the end of the Quincentennial Year. It is the product of massive reading in the important sources, years of pondering, and fury at what Europe hath wrought in America....His convincing claim is that what happened was the worst demographic disaster in the history of our species, that Old World diseases and Old World brutality reduced the number of Indians enormously and drove away many Native American peoples over the brink of extinction. How convincing are his evidence and reasoning? Very, I am unhappy to say....Nothing can be done to improve the past, but we can at least face it. David Stannard insists that we do."--Alfred Crosby, The Boston Sunday Globe

"Offers a much-needed counterbalance to centuries of romantic confabulation about the explorer."--The Los Angeles Times

"Honest, factual, painful, powerful, inspiring!"--Zaher Wahab, Lewis and Clark College

"Vivid and relentless, combining a formidable array of primary sources with meticulous analysis--a devastating reassessment of the Conquest as nothing less than a holy war."--Kirkus Reviews

"We need to be reminded, again and again, of what Stannard speaks of as 'the treasure of a single life.' Stannard gives us a fine review of recent literature and a rousing, effective call to define our terms,'racism,' 'genocide,' and use them to describe what happened and still happens."--Ellen Nore, Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

"A fascinating book, enormously impressive in its research and engaging in its style....Puts the Columbus story in philosophical and historical perspective. Further, it makes connections with our own time which are unsettling and profoundly important."--Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States

"A shattering realization is brought home: the German holocaust was not unique in history. There is a holocaust in our American past. We owe it to its victims, and to our own future, to reflect on Stannard's merciless book."--Hans Koning, author of Columbus: His Enterprise

"In a thoroughly documented narrative, David Stannard demolishes a score of historical myths, and turns American Holocaust into a searing account of what happened in the Americas after the arrival of Columbus. It is a stirring and troubling book "--Dee Brown, author of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

"A landmark of necessary remembering, American Holocaust acutely dissects the demons driving the European invaders and presents the most compelling answer yet to the horrifying question of what it was like to be 'discovered.'"--Richard Drinnon, author of Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire-Building

"The book to read to understand the last five hundred years. Stannard has courageously documented the initial and continuing genocide of natives of the western hemisphere in an irrefutable and convincing manner."--Vine Deloria, Jr., author of God is Red and Custer Died for Your Sins

"A scholarly assemblage of articulate, absorbing facts."--KLIATT

"The book offers an outstanding synthesis of pre-Columbian Indian history and demographics across the Americas. Students should find genocide thesis to be provocative."--Vincent Z. C. de Baea, Metropolitan State College

"A much needed corrective to the centuries of heroizing regarding the impact of European expansion and colonization on the New World. No one can read this book and not be ashamed of the Janus face of the West's cultural and religious roots!"--Dr. Thomas B. Andersen, St. Michael's College

"Good! Makes the students think about terms such as genocide, ethnocide, etc."--Clare McKanna, San Diego State University

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Customer Reviews

The book is well written.
My one quibble with this book is that it only chronicles destruction - it does not discuss the long and continuing resistance of Native American people and cultures.
Tara Marshall
Furthermore, his overall conclusions are mostly supported by the facts.
J Taylor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

130 of 150 people found the following review helpful By Tara Marshall on March 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
My one quibble with this book is that it only chronicles destruction - it does not discuss the long and continuing resistance of Native American people and cultures. In places like Vermont, the Abenaki continue to live in the shadows of their white neighbors, learned to use guitars and fiddles so we wouldn't be arrested for drum playing, and quietly suffer through continuing discrimination (there are several stores, where I could walk in and wait as long as the store is open, and not be served). A dirty little secret of the Democratic Party, which continues to hold the governorship of Vermont, is that it runs on a platform of never recognizing the Native People of Vermont - whether or not we gain federal recognition. (For fair comparison, I should note that the Republican Party wants to remove sovereign status from all Native Nations.) This is rascism, and Vermont history is completely whitewashed. The few times the Abenaki are mentioned in Vermont history textbooks that are sanctioned for use in the schools, we are constantly labeled as murderers and thieves. Never mind, of course, that we were murdered and raped in large numbers by European settlers who were stealing our crops and land.
Besides the continuing tribal resistance, there are very important modern movements of resistance that are pan-Indian, and embrace Hispanics and sympathetic whites and others, such as the Seventh Generation Project in Minnesota, and Tonatierra in Arizona.
The worst critique most people have come up with about this book is that its count of native peoples in the Western Hemisphere is inflated. That is hardly the case.
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62 of 74 people found the following review helpful By J Taylor on November 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
American Holocaust was published in 1992 in occasion of the 500 year anniversary of Columbus' voyage to the Americas. In the midst of much celebratory scholarship praising the greatness of Euro-American history and culture, Stannard wrote a book that tells history from a very different side. It present a vivid account of the European conquest of the Americas and focuses attention on how the often celebrated conquest resulted in nothing less than a holocaust for the Indigenous peoples of the America.

The first two-thirds of the book consist in a very graphic reconstruction of HOW the colonization of the Americas took place. Stannard pulls no punches and delivers us all the horror and brutality of the European invasion in no uncertain terms. The overall effect is rather depressing, but at the same time enlightening. Reading it before a hot date, though, is not suggested since you will probably be in a bad mood for hours. The second half of the book switches gears and focuses on WHY the colonization of the Americas took place the way it did. Showing he is not afraid of controversy, in a chapter entitled "Sex, Race, and Holy War" Stannard draws a direct connection between Christianity and the genocide of Indian peoples. Stannard himself admits that this is not the only explanation for the brutality of Euro-American conquest, but he suggests religion was an important part of it, and I tend to agree with him.

Overall, the book is nothing short of amazing. Unlike most boring historical analysis, this is one that--love it or hate it--is impossible to remain indifferent to. It is very captivating and beautifully written.

The only major flaw in Stannard's work is that he tries too hard to pigeonhole all facts in a "good Indian" versus "bad European" portrait.
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56 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Melvin G. Brennan III on November 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If, like "a reader" from New York, NY, you find that this work is "utter garbage," that's fair I guess. The most powerful thing, for me, however, about this material is the response it receives from others.
The spectrum of discourse can be found here, among the reviews.
The truth is that Native Americans were here first, in large numbers, and after the Europeans arrived, their culture, way of life, and people were "reserved" on patches of the land they formerly inhabited. If someone came along and tried to do that do present-day Canada, Mexico, and the US, we would see fighting on a scale not seen sicne the Second "World War." But we justify it somehow in our minds; to me, I think that we find ways to make genocide of Native Americans "okay" so as to avoid the psychic split that must occur in a human mind that has become fully aware of the evil that was involved in establishing this land for non-Natives.
Therein lies some of the reviewer response you will find. Read the book. Then read ten others. In the end analysis, you will return to the same place I inhabit; a place of amazement at how our leaders break breath to speak at all without first falling to their knees in begging for forgiveness for the evil that has taken place.
And I'm not even Native American. Wonder what they think...
Simply amazing.
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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Matthew S. Schweitzer on November 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
There is obviously a great deal of debate about this book and it's subject matter. Many feel that it finally tells the truth about the past 500 years of death, disease, and oppression that has been inflicted on the native inhabitants of this land. Others feel that it is left-liberal revisionist history intended to promote white guilt at having conquered the continent via notions of Manifest Destiny. Regardless of which side one is on, one fact is undeniable: a whole lot of Indians died at the hands of Europeans. Whether through disease, starvation, gun or sword, the "Indian Problem" was ultimately solved by eliminating the problem altogether. The renants of these once great tribes from across the entire North American continent were herded onto dusty reservations and left to rot, where they still languish to this day. One has but to delve a little into history to glean the truth of the situation. Starting with the Spanish in the Caribbean and ending with the slaughter at Wounded Knee, Indians fought a losing battle against a technologically advanced invader and eventually paid the ultimate price. While the validity of the "Black Legend" of the Spanish in the New World can be debated endlessly, the truth is that entire civilizations were destroyed in the name of God and King. The Conquistadores, the encomiendas, the brutal extermination of entire cities were real. Later, the French, English, and the Americans committed their fair share of brutal injustices. This is not to say the Indians themselves did not committ horrible atrocities against whites who fell into their hands. There are many tales of torture and executions of white captives at the hands of enraged Indians.Read more ›
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