ENCOUNTERS IN THE NEW WORLD by Jill Lepore

ENCOUNTERS IN THE NEW WORLD

A History in Documents
Age Range: 12 - 14

KIRKUS REVIEW

Whether drawn by curiosity or compelled by assignments, students of American history will find plenty of chew on in this meaty, heavily illustrated entry in the new Pages from History series. Lepore gathers extracts from letters, books, journals, sermons, advertisements, prophecies, folktales, and news reports generated by the meetings of New World and Old, chronicling the period from 1492—1789, when the autobiography of ex-slave Olaudah Equiano was published. The author opens with a discussion of what primary sources are and how to interpret them, considers each theater of contact in turn from the Caribbean islands to New England, shoehorns in a chapter on the African slave trade, and links all of her passages with analytical background notes. Beginning with a full-color section, the pictures are all, roughly, contemporary, heavy on maps that chart the world’s expansion in the European consciousness and including often fanciful scenes that in many cases are all that is left of vanished Native American cultures. Lepore dismisses connections between Asia and the Americas in a few words, and treats the Melungeon claims of descent from precolonial Turkish and African settlers in North America not at all. At her best, as when she tellingly pairs Cortez’s report of a first meeting with Montezuma with a Aztecan account, she opens windows on the different agendas and mutual incomprehension that so often turned peaceful contact into wholesale devastation. She draws from a host of hard-to-find sources, and creates a ghastly, compelling picture of one of human history’s pivotal moments. (notes, index not seen, b&w illustrations, maps, chronology, further reading) (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Dec. 13th, 1999
ISBN: 0-19-510513-3
Page count: 175pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1999




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