A deep-time history of animals and humans in North America, by the best-selling and award-winning author of Coyote America. In 1908, near Folsom, New Mexico, a cowboy discovered the remains of a herd of extinct giant bison. By examining flint points embedded in the bones, archeologists later determined that a band of humans had killed and butchered the animals 12,450 years ago. This discovery vastly expanded America’s known human history but also revealed the long-standing danger Homo sapiens presented to the continent’s evolutionary richness. Distinguished author Dan Flores’s ambitious history chronicles the epoch in which humans and animals have coexisted in the “wild new world” of North America—a place shaped both by its own grand evolutionary forces and by momentous arrivals from Asia, Africa, and Europe. With portraits of iconic creatures such as mammoths, horses, wolves, and bison, Flores describes the evolution and historical ecology of North America like never before. The arrival of humans precipitated an extraordinary disruption of this teeming environment. Flores treats humans not as a species apart but as a new animal entering two continents that had never seen our likes before. He shows how our long past as carnivorous hunters helped us settle America, initially establishing a coast-to-coast culture that lasted longer than the present United States. But humanity’s success had devastating consequences for other creatures. In telling this epic story, Flores traces the origins of today’s “Sixth Extinction” to the spread of humans around the world; tracks the story of a hundred centuries of Native America; explains how Old World ideologies precipitated 400 years of market-driven slaughter that devastated so many ancient American species; and explores the decline and miraculous recovery of species in recent decades. In thrilling narrative style, informed by genomic science, evolutionary biology, and environmental history, Flores celebrates the astonishing bestiary that arose on our continent and introduces the complex human cultures and individuals who hastened its eradication, studied America’s animals, and moved heaven and earth to rescue them. Eons in scope and continental in scale, Wild New World is a sweeping yet intimate Big History of the animal-human story in America.
"Old maps lead you to strange and unexpected places, and none does so more ineluctably than the subject of this book: the giant, beguiling Waldseemüller world map of 1507." So begins this remarkable story of the map that gave America its name. For millennia Europeans believed that the world consisted of three parts: Europe, Africa, and Asia. They drew the three continents in countless shapes and sizes on their maps, but occasionally they hinted at the existence of a "fourth part of the world," a mysterious, inaccessible place, separated from the rest by a vast expanse of ocean. It was a land of myth—until 1507, that is, when Martin Waldseemüller and Matthias Ringmann, two obscure scholars working in the mountains of eastern France, made it real. Columbus had died the year before convinced that he had sailed to Asia, but Waldseemüller and Ringmann, after reading about the Atlantic discoveries of Columbus’s contemporary Amerigo Vespucci, came to a startling conclusion: Vespucci had reached the fourth part of the world. To celebrate his achievement, Waldseemüller and Ringmann printed a huge map, for the first time showing the New World surrounded by water and distinct from Asia, and in Vespucci’s honor they gave this New World a name: America. The Fourth Part of the World is the story behind that map, a thrilling saga of geographical and intellectual exploration, full of outsize thinkers and voyages. Taking a kaleidoscopic approach, Toby Lester traces the origins of our modern worldview. His narrative sweeps across continents and centuries, zeroing in on different portions of the map to reveal strands of ancient legend, Biblical prophecy, classical learning, medieval exploration, imperial ambitions, and more. In Lester’s telling the map comes alive: Marco Polo and the early Christian missionaries trek across Central Asia and China; Europe’s early humanists travel to monastic libraries to recover ancient texts; Portuguese merchants round up the first West African slaves; Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci make their epic voyages of discovery; and finally, vitally, Nicholas Copernicus makes an appearance, deducing from the new geography shown on the Waldseemüller map that the earth could not lie at the center of the cosmos. The map literally altered humanity’s worldview. One thousand copies of the map were printed, yet only one remains. Discovered accidentally in 1901 in the library of a German castle it was bought in 2003 for the unprecedented sum of $10 million by the Library of Congress, where it is now on permanent public display. Lavishly illustrated with rare maps and diagrams, The Fourth Part of the World is the story of that map: the dazzling story of the geographical and intellectual journeys that have helped us decipher our world.
An award-winning historian tells the story of hunting in America, showing how this sport has shaped our national identity. From Daniel Boone to Teddy Roosevelt, hunting is one of America's most sacred-but also most fraught-traditions. It was promoted in the 19th century as a way to reconnect "soft" urban Americans with nature and to the legacy of the country's pathfinding heroes. Fair chase, a hunting code of ethics emphasizing fairness, rugged independence, and restraint towards wildlife, emerged as a worldview and gave birth to the conservation movement. But the sport's popularity also caused class, ethnic, and racial divisions, and stirred debate about the treatment of Native Americans and the role of hunting in preparing young men for war. This sweeping and balanced book offers a definitive account of hunting in America. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the evolution of our nation's foundational myths.
In searching American literary landscapes for what they can reveal about our attitudes toward nature and gender, The Green Breast of the New World considers symbolic landscapes in twentieth-century American fiction, the characters who inhabit those landscapes, and the gendered traditions that can influence the figuration of both of these fictional elements. In this century, says Louise H. Westling, American literary responses to landscape and nature have been characterized by a puzzling mix of eroticism and misogyny, celebration and mourning, and reverence and disregard. Focusing on problems of gender conflict and imperialist nostalgia, The Green Breast of the New World addresses this ambivalence. Westling begins with a "deep history" of literary landscapes, looking back to the archaic Mediterranean/Mesopotamian traditions that frame European and American symbolic figurations of humans in the land. Drawing on sources as ancient as the Sumerian Hymns to Innana and the Epic of Gilgamesh, she reveals a tradition of male heroic identity grounded in an antagonistic attitude toward the feminized earth and nature. This identity recently has been used to mask a violent destruction of wilderness and indigenous peoples in the fictions of progress that have shaped our culture. Examining the midwestern landscapes of Willa Cather's Jim Burden and Ernest Hemingway's Nick Adams, and the Mississippi Delta of William Faulkner's Thomas Sutpen and Isaac McCaslin and Eudora Welty's plantation families and small-town dwellers, Westling shows that these characters all participate in a cultural habit of gendering the landscape as female and then excusing their mistreatment of it by retreating into a nostalgia that erases their real motives, displaces responsibility, and takes refuge in attitudes of self-pitying adoration.
Many playwrights, authors, poets and historians have used images, metaphors and references to and from Greek tragedy, myth and epic to describe the African experience in the New World. The complex relationship between ancient Greek tragedy and modern African American theatre is primarily rooted in America, where the connection between ancient Greece and ancient Africa is explored and debated the most. The different ways in which Greek tragedy has been used by playwrights, directors and others to represent and define African American history and identity are explored in this work. Two models are offered for an Afro-Greek connection: Black Orpheus, in which the Greek connection is metaphorical, expressing the African in terms of the European; and Black Athena, in which ancient Greek culture is "reclaimed" as part of an Afrocentric tradition. African American adaptations of Greek tragedy on the continuum of these two models are then discussed, and plays by Peter Sellars, Adrienne Kennedy, Lee Breuer, Rita Dove, Jim Magnuson, Ernest Ferlita, Steve Carter, Silas Jones, Rhodessa Jones and Derek Walcott are analyzed. The concepts of colorblind and nontraditional casting and how such practices can shape the reception and meaning of Greek tragedy in modern American productions are also covered.
For four hundred years--from the first Spanish assaults against the Arawak people of Hispaniola in the 1490s to the U.S. Army's massacre of Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in the 1890s--the indigenous inhabitants of North and South America endured an unending firestorm of violence. During that time the native population of the Western Hemisphere declined by as many as 100 million people. Indeed, as historian David E. Stannard argues in this stunning new book, the European and white American destruction of the native peoples of the Americas was the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world. Stannard begins with a portrait of the enormous richness and diversity of life in the Americas prior to Columbus's fateful voyage in 1492. He then follows the path of genocide from the Indies to Mexico and Central and South America, then north to Florida, Virginia, and New England, and finally out across the Great Plains and Southwest to California and the North Pacific Coast. Stannard reveals that wherever Europeans or white Americans went, the native people were caught between imported plagues and barbarous atrocities, typically resulting in the annihilation of 95 percent of their populations. What kind of people, he asks, do such horrendous things to others? His highly provocative answer: Christians. Digging deeply into ancient European and Christian attitudes toward sex, race, and war, he finds the cultural ground well prepared by the end of the Middle Ages for the centuries-long genocide campaign that Europeans and their descendants launched--and in places continue to wage--against the New World's original inhabitants. Advancing a thesis that is sure to create much controversy, Stannard contends that the perpetrators of the American Holocaust drew on the same ideological wellspring as did the later architects of the Nazi Holocaust. It is an ideology that remains dangerously alive today, he adds, and one that in recent years has surfaced in American justifications for large-scale military intervention in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. At once sweeping in scope and meticulously detailed, American Holocaust is a work of impassioned scholarship that is certain to ignite intense historical and moral debate.
David Moscow, the creator and star of the groundbreaking series From Scratch, takes us on an exploration of our planet’s complex and interconnected food supply, showing us where our food comes from and why it matters in his new book of global culinary adventures. In an effort to help us reconnect with the food that sustains our lives, David Moscow has spent four years going around the world, meeting with rock-star chefs, and sourcing ingredients within local food ecosystems—experiences taking place in over twenty countries that include milking a water buffalo to make mozzarella for pizza in Italy; harvesting oysters in Long Island Sound and honey from wild bees in Kenya; and making patis in the Philippines, beer in Malta, and sea salt in Iceland. Moscow takes us on deep dives (sometimes literally) with fisherfolk, farmers, scientists, community activists, historians, hunters, and more, bringing back stories of the communities, workers, and environments involved—some thriving, some in jeopardy, all interconnected with food. The result is this travel journal that marvels in the world around us while simultaneously examining the environmental issues, cultural concerns, and overlooked histories intertwined with the food we eat to survive and thrive. Through the people who harvest, hunt, fish, and forage each day, we come to understand today’s reality and tomorrow’s risks and possibilities.
This book tells the human story from the origins of humankind to the end of the Stone Age around 2000 BC. It explores our links with other primates and examines theories of evolution, the beginnings of language, the rise of art and religion, and the global expansion that precipitated remarkable adaption and diversity. Then follows a survey of the revolutionary upheaval associated with the development of agriculture - a story of dramatic climate change, the domestication of plants and animals, massive population increase, the founding of urban centres, and long-distance trade networks. This momemtous transition is followed from Europe to the highlands of New Guinea and lowland Maya farmers, from Africa to Asia and the New World.
Brings together dozens of stories collected in 1927 by anthropologist Ruth Benedict during her only visit to the Pimas, plus songs and orations that accompanied a telling. It also includes a previously unpublished text by Benedict, "Figures of Speech among the Pima."