Friday, September 26, 2014

Nonfiction RC #9

I read this book for the Nonfiction Reading Challenge 2014.

The Globe Encompassed: The Age of European Discovery, 1500-1700  Glenn J. Ames

This book is an installment in the Connections Series for World History, which would be used in undergraduate general education courses such as World Civilizations. The aim is to provide an overview of a topic and provide selections from primary documents in books about 200 pages long. The first three chapters cover the empires of Portugal, the Netherlands, and Spain. The last chapter presents the English and French imperial experiences in North America.

Ames examines how "Old World" diseases devastated Native American populations in the Americas. Indians had no natural immunity to measles, smallpox and influenza. Demographers estimate that upwards of 80 to 95 percent of the Native American population died in these epidemics within the first 100 to 150 years following 1492. The most affected regions in the Americas lost 100% of their indigenous populations. I read this book in July, 2014 when people were expressing concerns about Central American migrant children who were supposedly carrying infectious diseases. Rich, indeed, very rich.

I recommend this book to readers who are seeking general information about the Portuguese, Dutch, and Spanish empires. The prose is a model of clear, precise writing. Before his early death at only 55, Ames was a well-regarded scholar of early modern Europe and the history of European expansion.

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