America in Europe: A History of the New World in Reverse

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Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986 - History - 298 pages
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About the author (1986)

Both a historian and a writer, German Arciniegas was born in Bogota, Colombia, the son of a Colombian father and a Cuban mother. A skilled observer of society, he has written about Latin American history and culture in numerous books, essays, biographies, and articles in magazines and newspapers throughout the Americas. As a historian, Arciniegas complains that textbooks on history are generally limited to political history. Most of his work focuses, not on the political history of specific countries, but on the many facets of Latin American culture and society in general. He has devoted thousands of pages to narratives of common people, common events, and common things. His literary legacy is an excellent point of departure from which to penetrate into the Latin American psyche. The most controversial aspect of Arciniegas's writing is his treatment of Spain. He is often critical of the conquistadores, the Spanish crown, and the colonial system in general. He is a firm believer in the Leyenda Negra, or Black Legend, which holds that the conquistadores killed the Native Americans, that colonists exhausted the mines, and that Spanish officials did nothing but justify the abuses that they themselves often perpetrated. Even so, he concedes that the people who conquered America were ordinary people, some from the lowest strata of Spanish society, and his descriptions of Spanish expeditions in America enhance the heroic status of many of these anonymous early explorers.

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