Published on December 10, 2012 by Carol
Author: D. J. R. Walker
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Walker describes the first two voyages of Columbus to the New World, with a stong emphasis on the interactions between the Europeans and the native Arawak people of the Caribbean. Relying on original sources including Columbus and his contemporaries, Walker paints a compelling picture of the peaceful, cooperative society encountered by Columbus in these islands in 1492 and 1494.
The overriding desire of Columbus to find gold to send back to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella underlies his actions during these first months in the islands. There was little gold to be found, but the generosity of the Arawaks to share whatever they did possess earned them little credit with the Europeans in the long run.
During the second voyage of Columbus, the Spaniards first repress, and later enter battle with the Arawaks. The closing chapter of the book recounts the rapid subjugation of the indigenous peoples, as they fall prey to disease and servitude. Within two decades, three fourths of the native population died, and the Arawak civilization became virtually extinct on the island of Hispaniola within three generations.
For those who would understand the dynamics of the first social interactions between the peoples of the Old and New Worlds, this book provides powerful instruction.