Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Americas: A Hemispheric History

Fernández-Armesto, Felipe. The Americas: A Hemispheric History. NY: Modern Library, 2003. 235 pages.

Reviewed by Rebecca Stuhr

Author of many books including Millennium: A History of the Last Thousand Years, (1995) Fernández-Armesto is a professor of history and geography at the University of London and Oxford. Critics have described his books as both popular and scholarly and The Americas fits this description. It is more of a carefully crafted essay or lecture than straightforward scholarly work. In this book, Fernández-Armesto seeks to present a unified history of the two continents that make up the Americas. In presenting this unified history, Fernández-Armesto dispels a number of myths, one of them being that the people and countries of the southern continent have always been economically and politically behind the countries to the north. He does this by describing the advanced city-based civilizations that developed from Mexico and into South America and the extended period of intense cultural transmission from the southern hemisphere into North America often by way of Europe. It was not until the population grew and moved west across North America and as industrialization took hold, that the northern continent began to eclipse the southern continent economically and politically. Fernández-Armesto spends some time looking at the effects of colonization on both continents. He looks at similarities between countries like Brazil, Chilé, and Argentina, and the United States and Canada in terms of populations, immigration, political systems, and commerce, and in terms of geography and climate. He looks forward to time of equalization between the two continents, mostly likely to occur through the exploitation of natural resources to the south. Although there are no footnotes, Fernández-Armesto concludes his book with a chapter-by-chapter bibliographic essay.

2nd floor. E 18 .F39 2003

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