Book Review

February 6, 2017 Commerce

APUSH Summer Assignment

1. Until quite recently, most American history textbooks taught that before Europeans invaded the Americas Indians were savages who lived in isolated groups and had so little impact on their environment that it remained a pristine wilderness. We now know from scientific discoveries that this account was wrong. What is the effect of learning that most of what we have assumed about the past is “wrong in almost every aspect,” as Mann puts it on page 4

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Learning that most of the knowledge we had assumed correct has consequences such as our basic assumptions are now being challenged and one most second guess all of which we have supposed to be face. Moreover, this particular assumption, learning that it is incorrect in turn can have a negative effect on the environmental movement which proposes that since Europeans arrived and destroyed the pristine nature that once existed, one should return to it, but if there never was a pristine environment, what exactly is one defending

2. There are many scholarly disagreements about the research described in 1491. If our knowledge of the past is based on the findings of scholars, what happens to the past when scholars don??™t agree How convincing is anthropologist Dean R. Snow??™s statement, “you can make the meager evidence from the ethnohistorical record tell you anything you want” [p. 5] Are certain scholars introduced here more believable than others Why or why not

The effect of scholars disagreeing is minimal because regardless of who is agreeing or not, all their works are being published, each with their own evidence. Snow??™s statement is very convincing because we use evidence in the way we choose to portray it and to defend our own views. All scholars here are introduced fairly equally because all of the theories are possible and all have substantial evidence to support them.

3. In the nineteenth century, historian George Bancroft described pre-contact America as “an unproductive waste. . . . Its only inhabitants were a few scattered tribes of feeble barbarians, destitute of commerce and of political connection” [pp. 14??”15]. To what degree is the reflexive ethnocentrism of earlier times responsible for the erroneous history of the Americas we have inherited

This idea of a backwards society when it comes to Native Americans has been going on for as far back as anyone can remember. Typically portrayed as savages in movies, art and literature, this is the mainstream stereotype. It is simple racism, that we have not yet overcome.

4. Because of the lack of documentary and statistical evidence for the mass deaths of Indians caused by European diseases such as smallpox and measles in the wake of first contact with Europeans, experts have argued about the size of the pre-Columbian population. What figures do the so-called ???High Counters??? propose What figures do the so-called ???Low Counters??? propose What might motivate the views of each side Which side does it seem Charles Mann leans toward Which side do you find more believable and why

The High Counters believe that the number of Native Americans was around 100 million while the Low Counters believe that is what it was previously said to be. The High Counters are being motivated by the ???proof??™ they have found. The Low Counters don??™t believe the new evidence is important. Mann leans towards the High Counters. Evidence presented in the book and the opinion of several historians make the High Counters side more appealing to me.

5. Why does Mann end 1491 with a coda on the Haudenosaunee “Great Law of Peace,” and what resonance does it have for the book as a whole

The Coda goes directly against all the preconceived notions on Native Americans, showing a structural and organized society that is anything but just a pack of savages. It solidifies the idea that our preconceived notions on Native Americans are incorrect.


1. According to Zinn, what is his main purpose for writing A People??™s History of the United States Why does Zinn dispute Henry Kissinger??™s statement: ???History is the memory of states???

Zinn??™s main purpose in writing A People??™s History of the United States is to provide the view of the people versus the view of the government as a whole. Zinn disputes Kissinger??™s statement because this statement ignores that the basic foundation of the states is the people, and those who may disagree with the position of the state.

2. What is Zinn??™s thesis in Chapter 1

Zinn??™s thesis in the first chapter is simply that we shouldn??™t ignore the groups who have been oppressed in the ???progress??™.

3. According to Zinn, how is Columbus portrayed in traditional history books What is Zinn??™s basic criticism of historian Samuel Eliot Morison??™s book, Christopher Columbus, Mariner

Columbus is portrayed as a great navigator and explorer. Zinn??™s basic criticism of Cristopher Columbus, Mariner is that Columbus is celebrated as this heroic figure and the acts of genocide he performs are undermined by countless of trivial information.

4. What were the major causes of war between the Powhatans and the English settlers

The major causes of war between the Powhatans and English settlers were the settlers invasiveness and want for land, which they are willing to commit genocide for and defend their actions using their religion.

5. Discuss the significance of Powhatan??™s statement, ???Why will you take by force what you may have quietly by love???

This emphasizes the Powhatan??™s amiable stance. Instead of going off and fighting, the deaths could??™ve been avoided if simply the English would have wanted to negotiate. This also goes against the negative stereotypes that??™s been created to victimize the English, that the Natives were aggressive savages.

6. Explain Governor John Winthrop??™s legal and biblical justification for seizing Indian land.

Winthrop justified taking the land because since it didn??™t actually belong to anyone and was not being developed he had all rights to do so and since he was doing it in the name of God, it was his right.

7. Explain the main tactic of warfare used by the English against the Indians.
The main tactics used by the English were genocide and scare tactics. They would kill large parts of the Indians in order to scare the rest into submission. Those who had seen what had happened to the rest of their people fled, or knew they ran the risk of being killed in the same fashion.

8. According to Roger Williams, how did the English usually justify their attacks on the Indians

The English justified their attacks by saying that they were happening to protect the colonies before the Indians attacked them.

9. What were the most important factor that resulted in the European invaders??™ defeat of the Indians Which was most important

The most important factors were the armor, weapons and horses, the diseases brought from Europe, the genocidal instinct of the English and the original peacefulness of the Indians. The most important factor were the diseases which killed off most of the population of Indians, since their bodies had not grown immune to such diseases.

10. How does Zinn attempt to prove that the Indians were not inferior to Europeans Provide examples. Based on your reading of 1491, how accurate is Zinn??™s thesis that Indians were not inferior

Zinn shows that the Native Americans had great wealth, knew how to farm corn and work the land and had their own form of organized government and were working more towards gender equality. Based on 1491, Zinn is correct, showing that the Indians were not these backward savages they have been portrayed as and were socially just as advanced as the English.


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