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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great food (no pun intended) for thought!, February 12, 2001
This review is from: Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World (Paperback)
"Indian Givers" presents information and ideas that are too often overlooked in our day-to-day thinking about what we have, and where those things came from. Weaterford does a grand job of introducing a wide variety of topics that the Indians of the Americas have developed or contributed to the modern world. As a reader you should we forewarned, however, that Weatherford has a tendency to occasionally push a discussion to the point of being overly biased.
Weatherford raises issues such as American Indians' contributions to the geopolitical influence of American silver and gold on the rest of the world...toward the end of that discussion it appears that the thread of connection between Indians' contributions and eventual impact of gold and silver is thin at best.
There are extremely valuable discussions about the diversity and impact of food, medicinal, and other plants. Those probably had a much larger impact on the rest of the world than did any of their other contributions. Consider the impact of potatoes, corn, many species of beans, peanuts, and long-fiber cotton on the rest of the world. I'm not sure that I agree with Weatherford on this...but he goes as far as to suggest that the Industrial Revolution of the late 19th century was driven by the importation of long-fiber cotton from the Americas to Europe.
Weatherford also discusses the contributions of Indians of the Americas to political philosophy, including the framing of the Constitution of the United States. I believe there is some significance to that, but perhaps not as much as Weatherford suggests.
Regardless of those kinds of potential academic disagreements and the periodic forays into speculation by the author, "Indian Givers" remains a book well worth reading.
This would be a great book for anyone interested in the culture and history of the Indians of the Americas, or for those with interest in ethnobotany, the imact of the Indians of the Americas on the rest of the world, or the impact of the rest of the world on the Indians of the Americas (disease, conquests, etc. -- sad business, that!)
A good book, but a litte to speculative in some parts for me to award it 5 stars...definitely a strong 4 stars though.
I'm grateful for all the benefits I enjoy that came from the Indians of the Americas.
Alan Holyoak, Director of Environmental Studies, Manchester College, IN
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