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The Forgotten Portuguese (Portuguese making of America : early North-American history) Hardcover – December 1, 1997

2.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Exhaustive book chronicles role of the Portuguese in America. We all know the Portuguese sailed the uncharted seas to discover more than two thirds of the world. They made alliances with previously unknown peoples and civilizations to secure a sea rout to spice-rich India. But what do we know about the Portuguese role in the birth of America? There's an easy way to find out... -- From the Publisher

About the Author

Manuel Mira has lived for extensive periods of time in three Continents. This has given him considerable knowledge of the different groups of people with whom the Portuguese have integrated. Manuel Mira is married to Lurdes, has a son and a daughter and six grandchildren. He is the President of an electronics communications firm with manufacturing facilities in North carolina and Florida.

Product Details

  • Series: Portuguese making of America : early North-American history
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: P.A.H.R.F., Inc.; 1 edition (December 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0965892700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0965892704
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,320,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Until I discovered Mr. Mira's book I had little knowledge of Portuguese influence in North America. I found the piece quite informative, and I would rank it as a valuable reference point for students of American social history, sociology and anthropology. I did find, however, that Mira presented too much lightly investigated material as "fact." There has been, unfortunately, little scholarly work done on the Melungeons, and Mira assumes more than he should from both his primary and secondary references. Nevertheless, a worthwhile study in general terms.
Additionally, I found the issues addressed in the two reviews currently on file rather interesting. I am not of Portuguese descent genetically. I consider myself Chinese but have had a scholarly interest in Iberian history and sociology (particularly Portuguese) for many years, in part because my maternal grandparents were from Macau (a former Portuguese colony). At first glance I was a bit puzzled by the New York writer's discussion of black slaves in Portugal during the 15th and 16th centuries. If one has a reasonable knowledge of Portuguese history it is clear that this was a rather minimal event and, as the writer points out correctly, of litle significance racially. Without doubt, there have been gross exagerations with respect to the amount of race mixing during this period in Portugal, but a number of excellent scholars such as Russell-Woods of Johns Hopkins have profferd a very clear perspective on this issue in recent years. The academic consensus is that black slaves were a very small "fixed" portion of Portugal's population (probably 1% at the most) and there is substantial evidence that miscegenation, in percentage terms, was actually much less than what occurred in the whole of colonial Black Africa.
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Format: Hardcover
This was a complex history of Portuguese sailors, navigators, historians and the ethnic diversity of the Portuguese people. I purchased the book hoping for help in understanding my complex family tree and found a whole different slant on American History. This was a difficult read. Have a handful of bookmarks handy. The author is Portuguese and there were some snags in my comprehension of his interpretation of facts from Portuguese history to English language. I got the sense that the materials should have been organized in a more linear fashion, but that's an opinion that might not be valid due to the enormity and complexity of the material. I found the comparative name lists most interesting and valuable. If you really want an alternative point of view to the traditional Christopher Columbus in 1492, this is the book for you as well as our educational system in the US. It was well worth the money.
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Format: Hardcover
Melungeons, a very interesting ethnic group I had never heard of prior to picking up Mira's book. No question, the Melungeons, their history and culture, make fascinating material for social anthropological study. However, Mira does a poor job with the information he presents and, consequently, the final product is a patchwork quilt of disparate and sketchy material that flows poorly. Unfortunately, this does not come off as a serious book.
My suspicion is that the Melungeons have only a minor ethnic connection to the Portuguese. Clearly they are a mix of European (Spaniard, Portuguese, British, Dutch), Turkish/Arab and, to a much lesser extent, Native American and Black African.
What is quite surprising is that Mira is lacking considerably in his knowledge of the Arabic influence in Portugal itself or, for the sake of being more accurate, Iberia as a whole. Mira's use of the term "Moor" is flawed, to say the least. Originally, Moor was used to describe people of Northwest African descent. Prior to the Arab advance in the early 700s, most Moors were Berbers. This Caucasoid group is very close genetically to many of the original Southern European peoples. After the Arabs conquered North Africa, the Berbers were essentially assimilated and are, of course, today are a minority in that part of the world. Moors, therefore, were a mix of Caucasian peoples: Arab and Berber. The term "Black Moor" is a false racial category which was used by Europeans to describe negro slaves of the Arabs and Berbers first seen, on occasion, throughout the Mediterranean world in the early Middle Ages. Eventually, in the later Middle Ages and Renaissance, "Moor" came to describe all people of swarthy complexion with Arabic features.
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By A Customer on September 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Mira has produced an interesting and authoritative work on Portuguese ethnic influences (mainly the Melungeons) in North America. However, a very important fact that Mira neglects, and so do most writers of Melungeon history and culture, is that the majority of the Portuguese that contributed genetically to this intriguing social group were shipwrecked sailors that initially settled along the coasts of the Carolinas, and later penetrated inland. These people were quite small in number. Included with the shipwrecked Portuguese were Turkish and Arab slaves or prisoners. Yes, the Melungeon people have some Portuguese blood, but it is a very minor amount. The Melungeons also have Arab, Turkish, American Indian, English, Dutch, and possibly German strains, as well as a small amount of Black African or Negroid.
The "TRUE" Portuguese are a blend of many peoples (not races). They are European and, of course, members of the white race. They are Celtic, Germanic, Roman, Greek, Phonecian and Arab in genetic make-up. There are considerable numbers of fair, light haired, blue and green eyed Portuguese. It is only in the south of the country that you see a clearer propensity for pale olive to swarthy skin tones, brown eyes and black and dark brown hair, mainly because of the co-mingling of Romans, Arabs and Greeks. Also, one of the greatest socio-historical exagerations, which Mira fails to clarify, has to do with the actual number of black slaves in Portugal during the 15th and 16th centuries, and the degree of their absorption into the population. If one does serious research on the subject, the facts are clear, the level of race mixing in Portugal was, and has always been, negligible.
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