Most helpful positive review
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Horrific history combined with provocative intellectual insight.
on 10 February 2011
This is an excellent and essential, yet harrowing, read about the Holocaust endured by the native peoples of the Americas.
The book is in two parts. Part one establishes the facts of genocide. The documented acts including from the memoirs of the Spanish, British and American perpetrators. This includes their self declared intent as expressed in ideological terms and the extent to which actions were societal, individual, collective and state and governmental policy.
Part two seeks to explain why such monumental genocide occured and goes all the way back to Aristotle to trace the roots of genocidal ideas in Western civilisaton and, especially, how these evolved in Christianity into concepts of Holy War, righteous slaughter, divine right to land, the idea that pestilence was divinely inspired and how these justified policies of deiberate extermination of native Americans. All this furnished with incriminating quotes from Spanish priests, English puritan ministers and American politicians.
Stannard believes that racism is inherent in Western culture and ideas and makes the best case I have yet seen that racism was an idea that predated New World slavery. However, I think a better counter-case is made by Robin Blackburn in 'The Making of New World Slavery'.
I'd thoroughly recommend Stannard's book as a feast of horrific history combined with well argued and provocative intellectual insight.