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William Cronon's "Changes In The Land": Review.

1396 words - 6 pages

William Cronon sets out to explain why New England habitats changed as they did during the colonial period and how this was all a process of change. His thesis is to portray that the shift from Indian to European dominance in New England entailed important changes in the region's plant and animal communities. Cronon supports this thesis by providing the reader with contrasts of both the ecosystems and the economies in pre-colonial New England to those at the beginning of the 19th century. From the initial squandering of valuable resources to the ultimate ruin of many areas in New England, the European way of life, including its economy, certainly changed the new land of which it had become a part of. Cronon explains how much the landscape and the environment were radically changed by the arrival of the Europeans. He also argues that the shift from Indian to English domination in New England saw English property systems take control and the dominance of domesticated animals as well. And finally, another argument suggested by Cronon reveals that the Industrial Revolution would transform New England ecology by opening up industries to urban centers and building canals to connect cities. Cronon's argument reveals that the change in New England's landscape and environment was not only brought on by the arrival of the Europeans but also made possible by the active involvement of the Indian people.Cronon introduces the field of environmental history and talks about the evidence he used to put together this book: early travel accounts; colonial town, court, and legislative records; ecological data; and the landscape itself. In addition, he discusses some of the theoretical problems with doing environmental history, which he refers to as ecological history. He makes it clear that he is centrally interested in how Native Americans and Europeans changed the landscape of New England, and how the changes Europeans made forced Native Americans to abandon their earlier ways of interacting with the land.Cronon reveals that the New England landscape during the 1800s was significantly different from what the first Europeans described. He uses Henry David Thoreau as a reference to explain how he also saw changes in the land during the 1800s. Animals which were once indigenous to the land are now very rare due to the domesticated animals of the Europeans. Because these domesticated animals were able to adjust and reproduce themselves quickly, they were able to takeover the lands. He also explains certain species of trees which used to be in abundance now grow in short supply because of their attractiveness as a fuel source. In addition to that, the deforestation affected local temperatures in certain regions, altered the soil and caused problems in drainage patterns. Since there were fewer trees there would be a greater chance of flooding every year because there would be no trees to protect the forest grounds.Cronon goes on to discuss the different views of the...

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