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American Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest of the New World

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  738 ratings  ·  77 reviews
For four hundred years - from the first Spanish assaults against the Arawak people of Hispaniola in the 1490s to the U.S. Army's massacre of Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in the 1890s - the indigenous inhabitants of North and South America endured an unending firestorm of violence. During that time the native population of the Western Hemisphere declined by as many as one ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published November 18th 1993 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1992)
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Simon Wood
Sep 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing

David Stannard's "American Holocaust", aptly published during the ahistorical hoo-hah that marked the 500th year since Columbus "discovered" the Americas, takes as its subject the genocidal destruction of the Native Americans in north, south and central America in the aftermath of the western European invasion.

The book is split into three parts, the first and shortest of which provides remarkable insight into the great variety of indigenous peoples that po
Feb 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Don't know how I could possible express in a few words, this books effect on me. It's a not like any holocaust that ever happened since. You won't find this in your high school history books, because it's too gruesome. ...more
Chris Neumann
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book will open your eyes to the atrocities done to Native Americans from 1492 to the present. The conquerers of North and South America brutally carried out genocide on the native people in the name of God and the search for gold. In the course of five hundred years, 95 percent of the Native American population was dead (over 100 million people mudered). Every school should have to teach this book to children alonside with the first Thanksgiving to give some much needed perspective. I wasn' ...more
Theophilus (Theo)
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The tale of not just who discovered and conquered America, but how they did it. A story of extreme violence, genocide, and biological warfare perpetretated against people because they occupied a land the Europeans wanted. Tons of references and some lithographs of the conquerers in action. Letters from witnesses. Not for the squeamish.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I read this years ago when it first came out. It was an eye-opener! I had no idea that disease wiped out so much of the native American population before Jamestown was settled and the Pilgrims arrived. I own a copy and always recommend it to friends who are interested in history.
Mar 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who like the truth, and people who like being sad.
The definitive review of what really occurred in the Americas before and after Columbus set sail. This book will point you towards the truth, but it will also make you extremely depressed. The author does not hold back when describing the horrific acts of torture and flat out slaughter that took place. There are some "good" bits too-- a nice portion of stuff about Bartolomé de Las Casas. ...more
Sudeshna Bora
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I have grown immensely while reading this book and I believe writing an emotionally driven review of a work of non fiction , when I do not possess the vocabulary nor the talent to do justice to it , won't be a beneficial review. So, I will stick to the pros and cons and try to justify why I gave it a 5, and if in the course of this review I realize this book does not deserve a 5 , I will change it . Let this review be a path of discovery for me as well as you , whoever is planning to read it.
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
In his Prologue, Stannard points out that ever since the Columbian land fall, there has been a prevailing blissful ignorance of the genocidal extermination of Indian peoples in America. By focusing on the ravages of European diseases, the blame is taken off of the perpetrators of this horrible crime. His book will be a necessary corrective. Divided in two basic parts, the book carries forward the arguments made by Francis Jennings approximately one quarter century earlier. The first part of the ...more
Jan 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A far reaching codex permeated with a means of humane thinking and rationale that shall one day serve as a bedrock for ancient and enduring knowledge regarding the human condition. An excellent and essential read for anyone wishing to better understand the preconditions, execution and perpetual extension of racist, dehumanizing and ultimately genocidal motivations.

What this book is: A thorough case study in the heinous rage of the human condition. An astute analysis of the greatest holocaust of
Feb 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Yeah - reading the TRUTH in print
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes I wonder if there is any humanity in us humans.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very well written and meticulously researched book describing the worst genocide the world has ever known. I boiled with fury throughout for a multitude of reasons: the priceless history that was lost forever when the Spanish invaded, the tens of millions of lives lost, the whitewashed trash that is fed schoolchildren by the public education system, the plague that christianity has been on this earth since it's inception, the racism that permeates society and how easily that racism is wielded in ...more
Matthew Griffiths
Jun 27, 2013 rated it liked it
A sobering account of the massive destruction of life that took place in the wake of Columbus' discovery of the Americas. This book offers an important insight into the way in which European contact with American Indian's was almost inevitably doomed to end in massive loss of life for the Americans. Of particular interest were the segments that discussed the development of the religious-racial justification for the slaughter of Indians and Jews in Europe and the placing of this ideological devel ...more
Ignacio Elola
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: proyecto-c
It should be mandatory reading.

I'm sad and ashamed this book is not translated into Spanish - every high school kid should be reading it.
Anthony Peter
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Heady, heavy, eye-opening stuff. Stannard presents his case that 'it is impossible to know what transpired in the Americas during the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries and not conclude that it was genocide'. And in this respect, the chief culprits he identifies are the Spanish in South and Central America, and the English/British and post-1776 non-native Americans. This is not I view I have ever seriously doubted, but the presentation of the evidence is daunting, drain ...more
Amjad Al Taleb
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sociology, history
I thought I knew something about the native american peoples but this book made me realize that I had absolutely no idea neither about the populations and civilizations of the continents before the Spanish invasion nor about the size of the genocide and the brutality of the atrocities the Europeans committed during the centuries since their arrival.

In order to allow the reader to comprehend the size of the genocide, the author dedicates the first part of the book to reviewing the civilizations o
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, leftism
Like another reviewer said this is really three books in one.

The first part is a survey of Indigenous life pre Columbus. You get a nice sense of the scale, cultural, linguistic and political diversity which characterized the New World. Rather than serving as an exoneration from practices we'd consider unruly today, the main takeaway is that it's truly absurd to try and talk about native life in broad strokes. Every tribe had negative and positive characteristics, some were more "progressive" ot
Nov 02, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 28, 2017 rated it liked it
It's like three books in one. The first sets up a kind of "1491"—what life was like on the American continents prior to Columbus's arrival, with an emphasis on how many people would have lived there, according to the latest research. It's the least compelling section, but necessary structurally for the rest. The second part is the most emotionally gripping, dealing with the wholesale slaughter of the native peoples at the hands of the Europeans. Working from source materials (written by the Euro ...more
Rachael Booth
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is difficult to review. The subject matter is the systematic destruction of the Native people in the Americas from the time of the Spanish conquistadors and explorers. It's full of gruesome depictions of mass murders, forced servitude, and wanton destruction of an entire continent full of people who were deemed "sub-human" because they didn't live in cities and didn't worship the Christian god. Being of Native American heritage myself, I used to think that Columbus started the destruct ...more
Brian Griffith
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-general
This book is a worthy contribution to the 1992 commemoration of the 500th Columbus Day. The unstinting accounts of extermination campaigns and forced labor camps across the New World are sufficient to do the magnitude of horror some justice, and the recorded thoughts or sentiments of the perpetrators are explored in disturbing detail. In comparing the crimes of Spanish and English invaders, Stannard finds the English slightly more murderous, as they tended to massacre the Natives not just for th ...more
Sam Kraft
Oct 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Should be mandatory reading for every young person that goes through the American education system, for anyone who has been deceived into believing that mass death by disease for indigenous peoples’ was an unfortunate, unintended consequence of the colonization of the Americas (it was indeed a genocide), and for anyone who continues to celebrate Christopher Columbus as a heroic figure for his “discovery” of the New World.

Despite the heavy, heartbreaking material, it’s extremely difficult to put
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Incredibly sad and eye opening book. Of course, I knew this period of history held many atrocities. But it is altogether different to read about all the worst ones in detail.
The author doesn't just relate history though. He pulls from numerous sources, naming each one in the text of the book. Which is wonderful, because then one doesn't have to flip to the end of the book constantly to read footnotes.
And, like any good book on history, it made me curious to learn more!
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great book and I would give it 4.5 starts, but the second half is very long without any significant info. The first part is full of unbelievable events about the cruelty of the white people. A book that must be red.
Andrei Barbu
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book that puts Columbus and the "discovery" of the new world by genocidal maniacs into context. You should skip the last two chapters, they might as well be from another book. A pretty crazy one. ...more
Sathyanarayanan D
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
How do we test a religion within the framework of modern standards of Public morality and decency? The word modern is indeed used here after a serious thought. The word modern can only be tested relatively, as there are no objective standards to test it rationally. People as members of an organized religion called Christianity have committed genocides of unthinkable proportions. But such a fact is not often discussed. When a missionary talks about virtues of Christianity to convert a non-believe ...more
Apr 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
outstanding work!
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sad but necessary telling of a history most people try to ignore.
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: required
a painful and important book that requires our attention.
Sue Ansell
May 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
The book has a very good subject but it reads like a text book and was very difficult to get through. I only finished it because it was a book club read.
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“The destruction of the Indians of the Americas was, far and away, the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world. That is why, as one historian aptly has said, far from the heroic and romantic heraldry that customarily is used to symbolize the European settlement of the Americas, the emblem most congruent with reality would be a pyramid of skulls.” 6 likes
“The first Europeans to visit the continents of North and South America and the islands of the Caribbean, like the Nazis in Europe after them, produced many volumes of grandiloquently racist apologia for the genocidal holocaust they carried out. Not only were the “lower races” they encountered in the New World dark and sinful, carnal and exotic, proud, inhuman, un-Christian inhabitants of the nether territories of humanity—contact with whom, by civilized people, threatened morally fatal contamination—but God, as always, was on the Christians’ side. And God’s desire, which became the Christians’ marching orders, was that such dangerous beasts and brutes must be annihilated.” 2 likes
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