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Author Topic: American History  (Read 29336 times)
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1350 on: October 25, 2007, 02:01:49 AM »

I don't want to get into this whole voting thing again.  Conquering Gotham didn't elicit much discussion, but then 1421 drew mostly negative reaction.  I suppose you can say the former discussion was more lively than the latter, but that's about it.  To keep discussions friendly and active I think it is important to achieve a consensus rather than simply have a straw ballot.  Shoot around a few titles, narrow them down to two or three, and then I think we can all agree on one, and put the other one or two on the dock for the next discussion(s). That's how we did it in the past.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2007, 04:59:44 AM by Dzimas » Logged
weezo
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« Reply #1351 on: October 25, 2007, 09:45:38 AM »

Dzimas,

I think you are confusing cause and effect. The fact that the poll yielded a controversial book should not be the basis of determining the worth of the poll. The poll elicited a larger group of titles, a greater variety in reading, periods, and interest levels. The concensus seems to limit itself to one of two books which may or may not be of interest to the "majority" of the group. In addition, concensus takes several weeks to happen, whereas the poll produced a much quicker result. With the poll, there was more time spent on reading and discussing a book than on deciding what book to read. A concensus is drawn on the basis of one or two frequent posters, whereas the poll drew responses from a greater range of participants.

Of course, if your intent for the list is to confine the participant to an old and familiar group of respondents and not to reach out to new members, then the concensus works just fine.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1352 on: October 25, 2007, 09:52:00 AM »

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I am a bit confused by the Cabezo de Vaca's accounts of living through great coldness during the winters near the Gulf of Mexico. Perhaps the severe cold is comparative to the warm winters of Spain.


Actually, it can get quite cold in winter along the Gulf of Mexico.  I grew up in the panhandle of Florida and remember some very frosty mornings, including the odd occasion where we actually got snow.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1353 on: October 25, 2007, 10:01:17 AM »

Dzimas,

I think you are confusing cause and effect. The fact that the poll yielded a controversial book should not be the basis of determining the worth of the poll. The poll elicited a larger group of titles, a greater variety in reading, periods, and interest levels. The concensus seems to limit itself to one of two books which may or may not be of interest to the "majority" of the group. In addition, concensus takes several weeks to happen, whereas the poll produced a much quicker result. With the poll, there was more time spent on reading and discussing a book than on deciding what book to read. A concensus is drawn on the basis of one or two frequent posters, whereas the poll drew responses from a greater range of participants.

Of course, if your intent for the list is to confine the participant to an old and familiar group of respondents and not to reach out to new members, then the concensus works just fine.

I was also referring to the NYTimes reading group forum, where we did vote for books each month.  Selections were hit and miss, with participation largely based on the controversy swirling around the book.
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weezo
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« Reply #1354 on: October 25, 2007, 10:11:43 AM »

It seems, then, that Cabeza de Vaca's account of cold winters in the south was relative. He had not experienced a cold winter such as is typical further north, and was primarily unprepared without clothing or decent shelter to withstand a winter season.

The Natives this Spaniard encountered, according to his narrative, tended to "hole up" or hibernate during the winter. This seems strange compared with other Native groups further north, who went about their daily lives summer or winter, adjusting their clothing, shelters, and food to the seasons.

Cabeza de Vaca also points out a number of occasions in which the members of his expedition found themselves so lacking in food that the resorted to cannabalism, and on at least one occasion, this resulted in dismay and dismissal by the Natives when they discovered what had been done.

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Bob
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« Reply #1355 on: October 25, 2007, 07:50:59 PM »

On the other hand:

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Under Irala and the other leaders the natives in the region around AsunciĆ³n were exploited for the benefit of the Spanish. There was no attempt to change the natives' practice of selling war captives into slavery or the practice of cannibalism. Another native practice that created problems was that of giving away women to cement tribal alliances. These women were given to the leaders of other tribes or to the Spanish when they became important in the power structure of the region. Soon any leader that did not refuse the gift of women would soon have a harem of dozens of native women. When Cabeza de Vaca came to AsunciĆ³n he set about to curb cannibalism, slavery and the concubinage was well as regulate the trade between the Spanish and the natives.

http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/cabeza3.htm

Cannibalism was practiced with regularity in some of the Indian cultures--but only rarely and under extreme  circumstances by Europeans.
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Bob
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« Reply #1356 on: October 25, 2007, 08:02:24 PM »

The Hawthorne book looks interesting. I think I posted above that Trancendentalism might be a good subject. It's importance in United States History is acknowledged by many historians. Mellville always intrigued me and there's a biography out on him also.

How about Henry Ward Beecher : solid history, religion and scandal all in one biography. The Most Famous American is out. I haven't read it yet but I have a copy.  It's by Debbie Applegate ( a prettier history I never laid eyes on---if beauty is a measure of talent, she's immeasureable) I think it';s her first book.
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Bob
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« Reply #1357 on: October 25, 2007, 08:03:15 PM »

Did anyone ask Jonnes any questions?
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oskylad
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« Reply #1358 on: October 25, 2007, 08:29:48 PM »

Of course, if your intent for the list is to confine the participant to an old and familiar group of respondents and not to reach out to new members, then the concensus works just fine.

I agree.  As a newcomer, I am having a hard time figuring out where to step in because I don't have time to follow all the discussion it takes to reach a concensus.  I need posting of the selection, lead time to read the selection, and a regular date when discussion will begin.  A poll could help achieve that.
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #1359 on: October 25, 2007, 10:11:22 PM »

Did anyone ask Jonnes any questions?


I did not. The links previously provided supplied some info missing from her book.

The Hawthorne book I am reading discusses to a considerable degree the racism that was quite evident among the Transcendentalists.  Unfortunately, this has been largely overlooked in past studies about that school.

As for new members on the forum, all are welcomed.  In fact, we had considerably more members in the NYT and no one found our old format to be troubling in any way.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1360 on: October 25, 2007, 11:26:34 PM »

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As a newcomer, I am having a hard time figuring out where to step in because I don't have time to follow all the discussion it takes to reach a concensus.

You can step in anytime you like.  You don't necessarily have to refer to the book currently under discussion to make comments on American History.  However, I'm curious how you will find the time to read a book and join in a discussion if you don't have time to follow the thread. 
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Dzimas
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« Reply #1361 on: October 25, 2007, 11:35:09 PM »

I sent my question to Jill Jonnes.  If you hit Contact on her website,

http://www.jjonnes.com/index.htm

there is space to write her a short note.
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weezo
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« Reply #1362 on: October 26, 2007, 12:02:08 AM »

Bob,

Can you point to a source on the cannabalism of Native tribes? Which ones, how establish, says who, when, etc. I have read creditable evidence in several sources, of human sacrifice south of the Rio Grande, but the only evidence of "cannabalism" in North America seems to be conjecture and misunderstanding rather than hard evidence. One correspondent on a history email list, made a big deal over a story about a Virginia chief eating the brain of an enemy he had killed, but could not provide a confirmable source of the story. This great evidence of the "cannibalism" of Natives was intended to deter me from writing a story of Pocahontas from the viewpoint sympathetic towards the Powhatans.

In the Jamestown Narratives, Strachey insists that all young males in tribe are killed in a ceremony know as the Huskinaw. His evidence was that the mother were in grief that their boys were moving from childhood to manhood. Ever see how many mother cry when their children begin school, or graduate from high school? Same penomina. Neither Kindergarten nor High Schools graduation involved death of the young man, just his passage to the next stage of life separating him from his mother.
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oskylad
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« Reply #1363 on: October 26, 2007, 12:20:23 AM »

You don't necessarily have to refer to the book currently under discussion to make comments on American History.

Depends on whether this is primarily a book forum or a forum about history.  But perhaps there are too few of us to concentrate on a particular book over a full month. 
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Bob
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« Reply #1364 on: October 26, 2007, 05:24:25 AM »

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I need posting of the selection, lead time to read the selection, and a regular date when discussion will begin.


When we post the selection  we always provide enough lead time to read the book and give a date when we will start.
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