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Author Topic: American History  (Read 29342 times)
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Dzimas
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« Reply #915 on: August 31, 2007, 01:00:12 AM »

You know weezo, the first time I heard Polish I thought I was hearing French.  My wife laughed at me in the cafe when I mentioned this.  You can hear all sorts of things when you are hearing a foreign language for the first time.  Oddly, I found myself recalling Sesotho phrases and words when I was first learning Lithuanian.  I even found myself singing the African national anthem, in Sesotho, once, much to the delight of her kids. Is there some connection?  Could it be possible that the people of Lithuania and Lesotho have some sort of distant connection?  The ear can play funny tricks on you.

As for Columbus, he was so desperately trying to relate what he saw to what he knew that he imagined all sorts of interesting connections, none of which were founded on anything other than his active imagination.  You yourself discount his claims, so why should you accept that he thought he was hearing Portuguese. 

Many early settlers thought they came across European descendants among the natives, because some of the native Americans appeared to have European features.  There were many who felt they were confronting remnants of the Lost Tribes of Israel in the natives.  The Mormons built a whole religion around the assumption that Jesus materialized in the Americas.  People think really crazy things.  Oddly enough, sometimes these theories have some basis, but you have to make more of an effort to find the pieces than Menzies did to prove it, not just cut off corners of the pieces to make them fit.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #916 on: August 31, 2007, 01:13:18 AM »

Well, Bob, it doesn't seem that Vespucci gets much credit these days among historians, but he was considered the discoverer in his day, even if Waldseemuller had second thoughts about labeling the new continental land mass America, but the name stuck.  Vespucci was the one who gave these land masses shape and size, at least the southern half, no longer seeing them as a string of islands which was Columbus' contention, and many explorers continued to search for what they thought was a Northwest Passage all the way up to the time of Cook.  At best one can say that Columbus discovered the Caribbean, even if he thought it was the Indian Ocean, and the names stuck in this case as well.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #917 on: August 31, 2007, 04:12:43 AM »

But if not for Montezuma's naivete in seeing Cort├ęs' arrival as the fulfilment of the Quetzalcoatlin  prophesy, who knows?

Tzvetan Todorov addresses this question and others in The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other,

http://www.amazon.com/Conquest-America-Question-Other/dp/0806131373/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-5791205-4542015?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1188547816&sr=1-1

Paz's Labyrinth of Solitude is worth reading as well.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #918 on: August 31, 2007, 05:08:32 AM »

Columbus as a man's man,

The Last Voyage of Columbus: Being the Epic Tale of the Great Captain's Fourth Expedition, Including Accounts of Mutiny, Shipwreck, and Discovery

http://www.amazon.com/Last-Voyage-Columbus-Expedition-Including/dp/0316154563/ref=sr_1_12/105-5791205-4542015?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1188551138&sr=1-12

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Dzimas
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« Reply #919 on: August 31, 2007, 05:10:13 AM »

Maybe you've checked out this title, weezo,

They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America

http://www.amazon.com/They-Came-Before-Columbus-Presence/dp/0812968174/ref=sr_1_6/105-5791205-4542015?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1188551138&sr=1-6
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Dzimas
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« Reply #920 on: August 31, 2007, 05:12:51 AM »

Since we seem stuck in a pre-Columbian frame of mind, maybe 1491 would be a good group read,

http://www.amazon.com/1491-Revelations-Americas-Before-Columbus/dp/1400032059/ref=sr_1_8/105-5791205-4542015?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1188551138&sr=1-8

Certainly sounds much more well founded than Menzies 1421.
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #921 on: August 31, 2007, 09:02:49 AM »

We read Charles Mann's 1491 in the Times' forum.

As for me, I'd like to go back to reading 19th or 20th century USA history, preferably Beneath the American Renaissance or one of those books on Truman.
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weezo
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« Reply #922 on: August 31, 2007, 09:38:36 AM »

I just got "A Cross of Iron" in the mail, and started reading it. A bit tame compared to recent readings, but I'm ready to go if that is the choice.

I have already read 1491 and would be happy to discuss it. The title of "Under the American Renessance" does not appeal - but I am assuming it is something about a literary re-awakening, which seems boring. I like history with some action to it.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #923 on: August 31, 2007, 12:28:47 PM »

Too bad I missed that discussion.  What did you think of 1491, thanatopsy?
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Dzimas
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« Reply #924 on: August 31, 2007, 12:42:20 PM »

Great Deluge also looks like a good read,

http://www.amazon.com/Great-Deluge-Hurricane-Katrina-Mississippi/dp/0061148490/ref=sr_1_154/103-7013896-7528667?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1188578214&sr=1-154

Or, if you want to go back in time, Rising Tide is very good,

http://www.amazon.com/Rising-Tide-Mississippi-Changed-America/dp/0684840022/ref=pd_sim_b_3/103-7013896-7528667?ie=UTF8&qid=1188578214&sr=1-154
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madupont
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« Reply #925 on: August 31, 2007, 02:31:45 PM »

Too bad I missed that discussion.  What did you think of 1491, thanatopsy?


In case,thanatopsy is not in as yet, I began reading it at the time of the discussion, or when it was first mentioned, which seems quite a ways back, and it is a large book, dense with information; and, as you probably have noticed, I got blown away when finding out about Cahokia because I lived a large part of my life within traveling distance (in fact my sister lived across at St.Louis while raising her kids who are now all adults and well educated at well-reputed schools and enjoying their adult lives). I certainly would have made the trip had I known something like that was just sitting there from somewhere in proximity to the date as title of Mann's book.

FROM PICTURES, the thing is absolutely beautiful today in its unlived in condition because it is covered, every foot of it, in lawn, lawn between the pyramids, lawn up the pyramids and down the other sides; and I recall a web-site that had air shots so you get the full effect. The question of course occurs to me, how do they mow this thing?

Unlike the Guatemalan rain-forest, this is geographically where the North American Plains begin, across from Cahokia (they warn you, don't head for the town by that name! The former indigenous residents habitation is a separate site, and you have to be sure you are headed in the correct direction.), and on the western side  of the Mississippi River.

I had known that there were  early French-American settlements on the Missouri, that were visited by the Marquise de Lafayette  during his tour in the later 1820s. 

Keep in mind, the settlement of Cahokia by the indigenous at an important "lookout" you might say between the Southeastern tribal regions and the Northern forest tribes perpetually descending from about the St. Lawrence and intermarrying which brought about new tribal identifications--then looks northwestward as well as northeastward where there is a parlay point on the Shores of Lake Michigan, and another at Council Bluffs, Iowa; so this is a view of the major gatherings to discuss differences or agreement between the two most major cultures either side of the Mississippi.

Cahokia would have been at a point to exact tribute, whether it did or not is something I do not know; but, what we do know is that it was attacked as were settlements on the west bank of the Mississippi, as Desoto was told by his guides when he was the first white man to descend the river and asked about what seemed evidently signs of destruction. I have to take that with a grain of salt because he is arriving there about 200 years after the settlement and I haven't checked the time-lines to discover how long pre-Europeans kept residence in Cahokia or did they all disperse?

This topic is but a small smidgen of all that Mann covers in 1491.
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #926 on: August 31, 2007, 04:15:30 PM »

Gintaras,

The book 1491 is outstanding and well worth a prolonged discussion. As I recall, it was one of the liveliest discussions we ever had on the Times' board.  Sadly, the board went kaput at that time and we stopped our excelent exchange about 2/3s of the way through the book.  Cahokia was one subject that was superbly well covered in the book.  Well, come to think of it, there probably wasn't a subject in it that was not thoroughly explained and fully documented.

Since we have new readers on this forum, it may well be worth having a vote as to whether Mann's book should be discussed here. For those who have not read it, please give 1491 your strongest consideration as you will greatly enjoy it.

As for Beneath the American Renaissance, it covers literary as well as historical and cultural history.  Professor Reynolds, the book's author, is about as thorough as one can be.  The book is quite compelling and superbly well documented. Its theme opens the door for all studies of subsequent American history.  Here are two reviews from Amazon:

```One of the most powerful pieces of scholarship and criticism on American literature in a very long time...[It exhibits] wonderful range, insight, verve, and critical sophistication. This is a most welcome and timely book; it helps set a new agenda for American literary and cultural studies.
--Alan Trachtenberg, Yale University

A rich, grand, transforming book, an inspired feat of literary and historical imagination...Reynolds massively recreates the vanished literary culture that was shared by both canonical and popular writers of the period. The surprising and exciting result is that the most familiar classics seem wholly new, as we come to understand for the first time the language in which they were written.
--Kenneth Silverman, New York University ```
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #927 on: August 31, 2007, 04:42:11 PM »

Perhaps my last note on Menzies' numerous mistakes about Puerto Rico is his claim that Chinese introduced coconuts to the island in their alleged travels of 1421 et al.  Officially, the government of PR  acknowledges the importation of this fruit in 1542 which is well after Columbus's death:

http://topuertorico.org/history.shtml


Nothing I have ever read or heard prior to this time in any way acknowleges the claims made by Menzies that the Portuguese or Chinese colonized Borinquen. 

Lastly, Menzies needs to have a better translator as he alleges that the word ''tiburon" means drainage when, in fact, it means ''shark''.
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weezo
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« Reply #928 on: August 31, 2007, 07:20:06 PM »

I sincerely hope the next book is not the American Renaissance, as I find the history of literature boring and clouded with lots of experts whose greatest significance is their ponderation of verbage.

I would much rather reread 1491 and discuss it. I am also going to read A Cross of Iron about Truman, and am now reading Esther Forbes' Paul Revere and His Times.

After so many of you have panned the poll, I am surprised that Than again wants to vote in a poll. Oh, well.
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Bob
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« Reply #929 on: August 31, 2007, 07:36:20 PM »

1491

But that's the way we get a consensus. Though it may appear to be a vote, its really a voicing of his choice at this time. Dzimas  said he'd like to discuss it also. You are for it at the moment, and at this point so am I. Any of us can make further suggestions, change or minds or just plain drop out....let it gel for a while, see if there are other suggestions, see if others  join us---see if others come up with  a better choice, talkthe book up. Then after a reasonable point, if all remains the same we'll go for it
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