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Stolen Continents: 500 Years of Conquest and Resistance in the Americas Paperback – January 20, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback 464 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (January 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618492402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618492404
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #695,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mr. James A. Newton on October 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a great book, make no mistake. It is very easy to follow without dumbing down at all.

The book looks at the histories of five peoples of North and South America since Columbus landed in 1492: these are the Aztec, Inca, Maya, Iroquois and Cherokee. The book is divided into three parts, namely 'Invasion', 'Resistance' and 'Rebellion'. Each part is then divided into five chapters, each detailing the role of each indigenous nation in each aspect (Invasion etc).

Ronald wright has uncovered a variety of sources that are barely known, most probably because wherever possible he tried to cite native sources rather than European ones. His very valid point of view is that the people of European descent have been telling the stories for long enough and it's time the indigenous peoples should tell their own histories.

The books covers ground most people are familiar with in terms of the history of the Americas; the 'conquests' of Mexico and Peru by Cortez and Pizarro in particular: but we hear it from the side of the Aztecs and Incas wherever possible. The fall of Tenochtitlan is particularly moving in the same way that the resistance of Manco Inca is particularly rousing. Where the book detracts from most other histories is that it openly states that the 'conquests' were and still are ongoing to varying degrees - it didn't all end after a few battles.

The 'Resistance' part of the book is very interesting as it deals with the current day: how if Guatemala were truly democratic it would be a Mayan republic (no the Mayans didn't disappear); modern Peru is a shoddy European infrastructure built upon an abiding native base.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ken Kardash on October 13, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an eye-opening, scholarly rebuttal to common perceptions about native American society before and after the European invasion. Ronald Wright makes no secret of his bias in favor of the people who were here first; in fact, he enhances the impact of what for many will be new information by presenting this extraordinary history from the point of view of the conquered. He also makes clear how large a part of the conquest was due to immune system rather than military deficiencies: if smallpox and other diseases had not done killed most of the native population, the facts recounted here suggest that history, particularly in South America, may have evolved quite differently.
In undertaking the massive task of recounting the invasion of all of the Americas, some selectivity is inevitable. Wright has chosen to focus on the story of five distinct native groups: Aztec, Maya, Inca, Cherokee and Iroquois. He then arbitrarily subdivides the story into three consecutive time periods: Conquest, Resistance and Rebirth. After the physical and political annihilation recounted in the first two sections, the title of the third may seem overly optimistic, particularly for the Guatemalan Maya. However, the concluding tone is more conciliatory and hopeful than mournful, particularly in the Afterword that updates matters to 2005, 13 years after the original publication date. The astounding amount of research involved in producing this admittedly selective overview is well-indexed and annotated.
My only quibble is that Wright, obviously an expert in the field of native culture, sometimes borders on the compulsive in matters of linguistic authenticity.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Munir on December 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
Wright's focus on five native groups- following their history from European contact until the present day- is an ingenious technique, allowing him to serves to create a narrative which is both sweeping yet full of personal detail. The groups also illustrate the extraordinary diversity of indigenous America. As the subtitle indicates- Wright uses native sources as much as possible, uncovering some rare material- such as a dialogue between Aztec priests and the Catholic Spanish establishment. Iv'e read many works on Native history; this was unique in how it juxtaposed such seemingly diverse images; from Spanish friars burning Mayan manuscripts to the Cherokee developing their own script and newspapers through white influence...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on January 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
The stories of so-called "losers" in history (actually those who are more peaceful and less self-righteous) can shatter ethnic stereotypes and cut the historical mythmaking and hero worship of the "winners" down to size. Here Ronald Wright makes great use of period sources and indigenous accounts of how five different Native American groups from throughout the western hemisphere - Aztec, Maya, Inca, Cherokee, and Iroquois - viewed what really happened after 1492. Learning about these native points of view will really make the conscientious American consider deeply the suffering that started then and has never stopped for our indigenous peoples.

This book was originally published back in 1992 and is a challenge to the 500th anniversary glorification of old Christopher Columbus. This pollutes Wright's narrative occasionally with politically-correct outrage and sarcasm. One methodological problem is that Wright doesn't consider too deeply whether Native American folklore and accounts written centuries after the fact are tarnished by their own mythology - a burden of proof that he applies more rigorously to European histories. Also, with the book jumping around across centuries and five very different indigenous cultures, the attempt at a sweeping historical narrative doesn't quite come together. That's especially true of Wright's handling of modern issues, as coverage of continuing oppression of the Maya in Guatemala and the then-recent Oka insurrection by the Mohawks of Quebec ends abruptly with little exploration of important modern themes. But Wright was clearly one of the first writers to draw serious attention to the Native American histories that have traditionally been suppressed and ridiculed. That makes this book a worthy entry in the reading list of historically conscientious Americans. [~doomsdayer520~]
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