Book Review

APUSH Summer Assignment

1. Until quite recently, most American history textbooks taught that before Europeans invaded the Americas Indians were savages who lived in isolated groups and had so little impact on their environment that it remained a pristine wilderness.   We now know from scientific discoveries that this account was wrong.   What is the effect of learning that most of what we have assumed about the past is "wrong in almost every aspect," as Mann puts it on page 4?

Learning that most of the knowledge we had assumed correct has consequences such as our basic assumptions are now being challenged and one most second guess all of which we have supposed to be face. Moreover, this particular assumption, learning that it is incorrect in turn can have a negative effect on the environmental movement which proposes that since Europeans arrived and destroyed the pristine nature that once existed, one should return to it, but if there never was a pristine environment, what exactly is one defending?

2.   There are many scholarly disagreements about the research described in 1491.   If our knowledge of the past is based on the findings of scholars, what happens to the past when scholars don’t agree? How convincing is anthropologist Dean R. Snow’s statement, "you can make the meager evidence from the ethnohistorical record tell you anything you want" [p. 5]? Are certain scholars introduced here more believable than others? Why or why not?

The effect of scholars disagreeing is minimal because regardless of who is agreeing or not, all their works are being published, each with their own evidence. Snow’s statement is very convincing because we use evidence in the way we choose to portray it and to defend our own views. All scholars here are introduced fairly equally because all of the theories are possible and all have substantial evidence to support them.

3.   In the nineteenth century, historian George Bancroft described pre-contact America as "an...