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Stolen Continents: 500 Years of Conquest and Resistance in the Americas
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Stolen Continents: 500 Years of Conquest and Resistance in the Americas

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  533 ratings  ·  55 reviews
Powerful and passionate, Stolen Continents is a history of the Americas unlike any other. This incisive single-volume report tells the stories of the conquest and survival of five great American cultures — Aztec, Maya, Inca, Cherokee, and Iroquois. Through their eloquent words, we relive their strange, tragic experiences — including, in a new epilogue, incidents ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published January 20th 2005 by Mariner Books (first published 1992)
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4.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  533 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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Jun 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Most people wouldn't even want to read this book, which is even more saddening than the stories it tells. This should be a textbook in college American history courses, but that would never happen. I sought this book out after reading "A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies" by Las Casas, which is a first person account of what the Spanish explorers did in central and south America. I would recommend that anyone with even a hint of curiosity regarding Native Americans should read the L ...more
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Only a couple of pages of this book were enough to bring me to the reality of the holocaust, the author's own word, that these "Indian" Americans have been going through since. Stones forced into eye sockets, infants kicked around as soccer balls, the soles of teen's feet shaved off, ...etc. These gruesome acts might seem safely secured in history by the centuries that now separate us from the time Columbus first landed on the Americas. However, these acts are only from the 20th century (covered ...more
Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Heart-wrenching. I am a descendant of the people whose struggles Ronald chronicles in this book. Reading this was for me an evisceration of my ignorance, an agony-inducing procedure in which a layer of the cancerous tumor of colonization has been removed from my soul. This book educated me, caused anger, resentment, but more importantly, it nourished my will to become more involved in, not only my own decolonization, but in that of others as well. I won't repeat the book's summary here; I will s ...more
Probably a little one sided as it says little about the atrocities committed by native Americans before, during, or after invasion - although they are touched on briefly.

On one hand I think ‘so what?’ It was their country. On the other, I’m intelligent enough to realise that there was no golden age of human civilisation in any part of the world at any time and I feel that omission of those details suggests that there was.

Despite all that this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It contains
Jul 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
(note - this review was written several years ago for a private site)

I have to admit that this has been one of the more depressing things I have ever read, provoking a reaction similar to what I experienced while watching Hotel Rwanda. It also provided some insights, which directly challenged the received wisdom that I had accumulated from other sources. Turns out I can't trust JT Edson.

The story

Wright looks at the effects of the conquest upon what he deems to be the five major societies or sta
Hugo Leal
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Truly remarkarble book that tells the story of the 'discovery' of the Americas through Indian eyes. As history is always told by the victors, 1492 is seen as the beggining of the 'modern world' with all positive connotations associated with it. But, for the First Americans it was the beggining of an invasion, repression and genocide that continues to this day. More than 90% of the original American died through diseases and direct killing. Ronald Wright tells us the story of the conquest as it w ...more
Aug 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Ronald Wright is an excellent writer and this is an absorbing book. Wright tells the story of colonisation in America by focusing on the histories of five Indian civilisations - Inca, Maya, Aztec, Cherokee and Iroquois. These civilisations were chosen because they were the most complex societies at the time of first European contact and thus have left the best records.

The book is structured into both chronological and geographical divisions. Wright describes the three chronological divisions as
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
This history of the conquest and resistance of Native Americans alternates between horrifying and boring. I knew some of the harrowing tales of mistreatment of Native Americans by the Europeans, but some of the tales in this book still shocked me. It makes me feel cynical about human nature. However, most of this book was fairly drab. The author was clearly very fired up about it, but he failed to infect me with the same passion for the subject.

One of his goals, and I suppose it was partially ac
Jan 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
If it's not too strange a statement with which to open a book review, this is more the kind of read that I was hoping for from the much more well known Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West.
Where 'Bury...' seemed content with bombarding the reader with facts and history, this book on almost the same topic actually makes a point of humanising the main protagonists, making this feel a much more personal book than the relatively staid aforementioned alternative.

Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Read this book! It helps one get out of the US-centric habit of calling "our" country "America" by lowering the red-white-and-blue curtain just enough to glimpse the true nature of the Conquest of the hemisphere. "Stolen" replaces the lie of "Discover" by fills in five of the many thousands of gaps in US education. I listened to an earlier audiobook version (there is a 2015 paperback edition as well). One of the best features of the book is that it brings the reader relatively up-to-date with th ...more
Aug 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
A great overview of the history and what happened to 5 different people groups native to North America when the Europeans arrived. I gained knowledge and respect for the various people groups and their uniqueness. For example, the first zoo was discovered in Mexico by the Europeans. Also, the Mayans had a complex way of measuring time, involving three different calendars. A caution to the book is that the author is obviously hostile towards Christianity bringing its message to the "New World".
Rachel C
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is by far, the most education I've ever received on aboriginal history. I am so glad I opened this book. It took me only a couple of days to finish because it's so easy to read and so interesting. Wright has the reader follow the Inca, Maya, Aztec, Cherokee and Iroquois from 1491 until 1990. It was so refreshing to read history from a different perspective. It's about time, too! I wish I had heard about it sooner.
Dec 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
A history of the European encounter with five American Indian nations - the Aztecs, the Maya, the Inca, the Cherokee and the Iroquois. There are fifteen chapters in all, with a chapter on the European conquest of each nation, their fates under the conquest, and the current situation. The book starts with Columbus, Cortés, Pizarro, Moctezuma and Atawallpa, and ends with Sendero Luminoso, Rigoberta Menchú Tum and the Oka crisis. "Extremely fascinating" is not strong enough an expression; among oth ...more
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The focus of the wrongs done to Native Americans, thanks perhaps to Dee Brown’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee , tends to be on the Victorian 'West' in the United States. Wright reminds us that the “Indian Wars” , even in North America lasted for two and a half centuries and not just the thirty year period after the Civil War.

In South and Central America it started in the 15th century.

The fighting in the eastern United States both in colonial times and after independence seems to have been more
Ellis Amdur
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A history of the conquest of the Americas derived from contemporary and near-contemporary Indian accounts. Stunning in its portrayal of what the Inca, Aztec, Cherokee and Iroquois nations were (and are) really like. And stunning in the realization that the conquest took place as a wave of plague preceded the Europeans across the entire continent, probably killing over 90% of the population in each Indian culture before the wars started. And stunning in the realization that what we believe to be ...more
Sam Orndorff
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal account of Native America. The real, gruesome, harrowing and ongoing colonial struggle is all herein: as told by the experiences of 5 peoples (Iroquois, Aztec, Maya, Inca and Cherokee). Mr. Wright writes mostly with a political history perspective, with a lot of military description. He creates an effect that is truly bold and if not an exhaustive history then at least a cautious look at the lasting effects of 500 years of colonization. This is vital information for any student of pos ...more
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
History as they say is written by the victors. The colonial victors of conquests across the New World also did their best to erase all available accounts of the native populations. Fortunately due to the ingenuity of the Aztecs, Mayas, Incas, Cherokees, Iroquois a lot of history and lore still survives. The author has pieced together these accounts to form a narrative which may not be commonly available in regular history books. Unlike the trajectory of colonialism in Asia and Africa where the p ...more
the gift
261017: this book alternates between inspiring anger and mourning. there is not much i did not know, in general terms, of the contact, cultural genocide, invasion of the European forces. this is more details, more exploration of five major people of the Americas, Inka, Aztec, Cherokee, Maya, Iroquois, and how their worlds collapsed, mainly by old world diseases, by advanced weaponry, by deceit, by cultural and political differences. this is one of those books to document how the arrival of Colum ...more
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Lent to me by a colleague, I could not put this book down even over March Break when I usually choose lighter books for entertainment. North American history that isn't told in textbooks or even in higher level history classes, with plenty of first hand accounts and perspectives. I'll be using this as a reference book from now on and pulling pieces of it into my own teaching. Heartbreaking to read at times but I highly recommend it to anyone wishing to know more about the history of North Americ ...more
Colin O'Shea
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book, goes through a host of the tribes involved from the earlier south American ones to the later ones, with a sympathy for the evisceration that took place of their race, due to war but mostly infection by the white man's diseases, some of which (small pox) were deliberately spread in order to cull the herd, as they say. Also interesting to learn of the literal source of the 'bury the axe' saying and that the Iroquois Nation of five tribes had a form of democracy which the founding fathe ...more
Aug 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
It is hard to believe that when Columbus "discovered" the Americas there were already 100 million natives in North and South America.

A very interesting and thought provoking book. It is an overview of the Aztecs, Mayas. Incas, Cherokee and Iroquois from their first contact with Europeans to today. The book is divided into Invasion, Resistance and Rebirth. It covers a lot of territory but is a good primer for anyone interested in the issues.
Jul 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in having a balanced view of the history of North America.
Shelves: non-fiction
Much of this was difficult to read as it is hard to imagine people being able to behave so badly and treating other people the way many Europeans (maybe most) treated the actual Americans, the Amerindians. It was well written and read more like a riveting story than a heavy history. There are lots of quotes from primary sources which add to the experience.
Jun 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
4/5 Spuds. An excellent book and well researched if somewhat sentimental at times. Told mainly from the perspective of the various Amerindians during the colonial/conquest era, this book traces the history of the five main American Indian civilizations, the Aztecs, Mayans, Incas, Cherokee and Iroquois from the time of Columbus to the present day.
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A sobering view of Aztec, Maya, Inca, Cherokee, and Iroquois cultures through conquest, resistance, and rebirth (could an honest history be anything else?). I found it impossible to not dig into certain areas more deeply as I read. Much of my curiosity also stems from my Mexican and Colombia roots. I think this is the last push I need to do 23 & me.
Feb 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It is totally shocking how the history of North America has been completely re-written to erase the incredible treatment of the highly developed and civilized societies that existed here before the arrival of the Europeans. Everything we were taught in school about the native peoples of this continent was a lie.
Mike Frost
Jun 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
If it were written with just a smidgen more objectivity I would have liked it even more, but as it is, Stolen Continents is a fascinating account from the perspective of the conquered native peoples in the America, based on a number of primary sources that I hadn't realized even existed.
Sep 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Comprehensive analysis of the near genocidal invasion of the Americas and their resistance. It is nice to hear the voices of aboriginal folks from North, Central and South America, as a good counterweight to the official story which often erases them and their contributions.
Edward Amato
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. Should be required reading for all high school students. I had totally forgotten Canada's poor performance with the Six Nations during the early 90s. One more gringo debacle to add to the list of shame.
Jan 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Well written and engaging, Wright makes good decisions about how to cover 500 years in a few hundred pages. We know the resistance continues, but great to see how clear today's actions connect culturally, politically and strategically to the those first contacts.
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Goodreads Librari...: Additions 2 15 Jan 30, 2014 12:21PM  
ummm wrong title 2 26 Jan 29, 2010 07:33PM  
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Ronald Wright is a Canadian author who has written books of travel, history and fiction. His nonfiction includes the bestseller Stolen Continents, winner of the Gordon Montador Award and chosen as a book of the year by the Independent and the Sunday Times. His first novel, A Scientific Romance, won the 1997 David Higham Prize for Fiction and was chosen a book of the year by the Globe and Mail, the ...more