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A Review Of The Columbian Exchange

1453 words - 6 pages

A Review of The Columbian ExchangeBy: Justin HoganThe Columbian Exchange, by Alfred W. Crosby, is an in-depth look at the biological and cultural consequences of Columbus's discovery of the New World. The Columbian Exchange focuses on the negative aspects of the European exploration and exploitation of the Americas and Europe. Alfred W. Crosby focused on the dependence of different foods, the changes in lifestyles, and the effects that the European flora and fauna had on the New World, changing the Americas forever. The Columbian Exchange would be an excellent book for any historian, but not someone looking for a great story. The book was very hard to follow due to the amount of information given in each chapter. Choosing which information was most important in Crosby's book, was a very difficult task. Crosby also had a tendency to deviate from the subject matter and does not always provide enough evidence for his claims. In some cases, however, these tangents allowed the reader to better understand the point he was trying to make, but mostly it makes trudging through endless examples and repetition a chore.In the book, The Columbian Exchange, Crosby tries to prove that the natives of the New World were victims of European disease and culture. Crosby goes into great detail about disease and the impact it had on the peoples of the New World. He explains how pure and isolated the Indians lives were before white-men and their diseases entered the New World. Crosby tries to show the founding of the Americas was not just about a man by the name of Christopher Columbus stumbling across a new world. In his book, he shows how the Europeans stumbled across, not a new world, but a world that was already colonized by another race. He tries to show how the Indians lives were taken and overrun by a stronger and more powerful race.One event Crosby felt had the most impact on the New World was infectious disease. When the Europeans first arrived to the New World, they brought diseases that the Indian cultures had never seen before, diseases such as measles, typhus, pneumonia, smallpox, and syphilis; worst being smallpox. When smallpox first hit the New World, the Indian cultures died by the thousands. Toribio Montolinia, of the Aztec empire in Mexico, said "more than one half of the population died; in others the portion was little less...They died in heaps, like bugs." (Crosby 1972, 52) In the Empire of the Incas, Cieza de Leon gave a figure of 200, 000, and Martin de Murua, throwing up his hands, says, "Infinite thousands." (Crosby 1972, 53) Syphilis was another big Indian-killer, but not quite as drastic as smallpox. The impact of syphilis was that the disease did not kill a person right away, but infected many very rapidly. When the isolation of the New World was broken, the Indian cultures had no immunities for the Old World diseases. The only immunities the Indians knew were the diseases of their world. As the Indians of the New World were dieing off, the...

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