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A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  2,570 ratings  ·  293 reviews
Paperback, 143 pages
Published June 25th 1992 by Penguin Classics (first published 1552)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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Maru Kun
The index entry under “torture and death” in “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies” is as eloquent about the fate of the native people of the Americas on first meeting the Spanish conquistadors as any review I could write:

beating and flogging
beheading
burning
dashing against rocks
disemboweling
dismembering
drowning
genocide
hanging
impaling
killing for food
maiming
massacre
overworking
rape
savaging with dogs
strappado
suicide

I disappoint myself at never before having heard of Las Casas, whom Wikip
...more
Alexander Santiago
This book is something of a controversy amongst us caribbean latinos: some see it as a living testament to the atrocities and cruelties our Spanish ancestors inflicted on the natives in the Spanish quest and greed for gold in the New World; others have viewed it as pure propaganda, biased accounts and outright lies. I haven't really taken a position on this, but I can say that this had to have been the most disturbing book I have read. Told from the account of a Spanish colonizer who went to His ...more
Branko Jovanovski
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn?"

I wonder if the Ukrainian Famine, the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, the Rwandan Genocide, the Southwest African Genocide, the Macedonian Genocide in Greece, the Palestinian Genocide, and so many other atrocities of the 20th century will be in 500 years forgotten and labelled "necessary" as the biggest genocide in the world has remained to be forgotten - the one of the uncounted tens of millions of Native Americans killed and tortures, their descendants
...more
Deirdre
Jul 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, history
As historians and critics we try always to interpret documents in the context of the times out of which they were produced. We recognise that dominant ideologies in other cultures and other times were very different from our own. But then a rare and very different voice speaks to us, demonstrating that the dominant opinions were not the only ones, that there were a few rare minds interpreting their own times in ways we recognise. Such a voice is that of de Las Casas. He was a Spanish colonist op ...more
Leona  Petrovic
Rather repetitive and dull but an important document to be aware of nontheless. Las Casas probably did exaggerate certain stories, especially ones from second-hand sources, but even if the behavior of the conquistadors was half as bad as Las Casas says it was it would still be disgusting and undoubtedly immoral.
Czarny Pies
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone even remotely interested in world history.
Recommended to Czarny by: Everyone. It is a well recognized classic.
Shelves: lat-amer-hist
This short document should be read by all those studying history as undergraduates and by anyone even moderately interested in the colonisation of the New World. A Spaniard and a Dominican friar, Las Casas was horrified by the atrocities that he saw being committed by his countrymen against the local Indian populations in the countries that they were seeking to colonize and economically exploit.

Las Casas spend over forty years pleading for changes to the methods used by the Spaniards which were
...more
Graychin (D. Dalrymple)
How do you give a star rating to something like this? As a book it has its limits; as an historical record, it’s invaluable. It documents in gory and excruciating detail the long series of mass-murders, tortures, and enslavements that (along with the introduction of European diseases – unmentioned by the author) eventually reduced the native population of the Americas by as much as 90-95%.

It is a very painful read. But talk about a complicated, fateful figure…

Las Casas settled on Hispaniola in
...more
April
Mar 08, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this for World Literature...it wasn't very interesting. Basically, the Spanish go everywhere in the Indies and do unspeakable things to the natives. Except we're not really sure if they DID do what Las Casas claims, because he was prone to exaggerate to help sway the Spanish King. So, all we can really take from this narrative is: The Spanish probablyyyy weren't very nice.
Conor Ahern
Man, white people have done some really awful shit.
Nicole aka FromReading2Dreaming
This book was for one of my classes and it’s an account from a man who watched the slavery taking place in the Caribbean after Columbus “discovered” the Americas. It was really interesting because it illustrated that some people actually opposed what happened in the America’s. But it also illustrates the white savior complex, as the author details how they will save the people from slavery. Overall it was interesting to read.
Zana
Mar 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in Latin American history
Shelves: reviewed
Bartolomé de las Casas was such an interesting figure... While he advocated indigenous rights, he did so within the culture and context of colonial Spain so his views were inadvertently racist when viewed through the lens of the modern day. We don't really seem to touch on views which don't fit our current narrative. While discussions on de las Casas's political motives and intentions might derail us from the topic of indigenous rights, it is always good to remember that issues such as indigenou ...more
Feliks
Nov 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-nonfiction
Pretty gory...better than most horror movies, in that it is instructive not just grisly. Of course, you can read it on the visceral level alone. For fans of purely the grotesque and the gruesome: this is certainly a slay-ride. The Conquest of the Indies is harrowing reading.

But it also provokes some thoughtful dilemmas. What kind of species are we, really? And you really gotta wonder about these Spaniards. How could they carry out this genocide in the name of 'Holiness' and then in the next cent
...more
Cindy Leighton
I love getting to occasionally teach high school history because I get a chance to read all the things I missed by being educated in the 1970s and 80s. .. I am glad to know my own kids assure me they read las Casas in high school while regretfully I did not - but my students will.

las Casas' eyewitness account of the genocide that took place in the Américas throughout the 16th century is beyond horrifying. Las Casas is very clear that the God of the Spaniard "explorers" is Gold; that "everyone, y
...more
Tim
I had never read an account of what the Spanish really did while they were 'exploring' the New World. This was eye opening. Not everything in this book is an eyewitness account, and some events are not believed to be fully accurate. But if even half of it is true, the atrocities committed by the Spaniards against the native american populations are astounding, perhaps even unsurpassed in human history.

I didn't give the book any stars because I didn't 'like' it. Reading about people torturing and
...more
Darby
Mar 08, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: class
Definitely interesting - a newer point of view of imperialism that I had never seen from a European. That being said, reading the first twenty pages would have been the same as if I hadn't read all 138. Repetition can be done skillfully and this man did not harness that skill for this work.
Mariam
Mar 17, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, Bartolome de las Casas
Anna Novakis
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have to put the book down to digest the atrocities, but it is mandatory for every “American” to read this absolute reality of our start.
Xander
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Spanish Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas was a 16th century missionary - he went to the Spanish Americas multiple times. Unlike most of his contemporaries - of which some even thought indians had no soul and therefore no right to live - he was appalled by what he saw.

Spanish armies destroyed villages, employed indians en masse - men, women and children (!) - in forced labour in gold mines and agriculture; had civilians killed on sight (if they were lucky) or tortured slowly to death
...more
Funda Yokari
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing but heartbreaking letter of a priest from 15th century, explaining to the Spanish king what has been happening since Colomb discovered the new world, America. In the letter, he explains how kind, gentle and peaceful the Indian tribes were. He explains that in return of their hospitality and generousness, they received massacre and genocide as well as torture and slavery and cannibalism.
This small book depicts quite a picture about how America was before and what happened to every livi
...more
Michael Esquivel
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mexico, survival
Friar de Las Casas gave a detailed, eye-witness account as to the atrocities inflicted on the Native people of Latin America by the Spaniards. Many people are aware of some of the travesties these people suffered, but most do not know to what extent. The Spaniards only cared about finding gold by any means necessary. Each chapter describes a different location and each chapter tells the same story: The Spaniards enter a new territory and are greeted by the Native people. The Spaniards demand gol ...more
Donna
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Not an easy book to read. This is an account of the atrocities committed by the Spanish explorers in the New World. All those names you remember from the early history of North and South America—all of them—were guilty of unspeakable crimes in pursuit of more gold and slaves. Millions were killed. Each vignette was more terrible than the last.

What is interesting is that this book is the first one to set out human rights abuses. The author is a Dominican priest who was present in the New World f
...more
Sam
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This "cronica" is famous for creating the "black legend" about Spanish treatment of the native people of the Americas, which was later used to make Spain look bad in international politics. So, it seems that Bartolome is on the side of the Native Americans. However, post-colonial people are uneasy with him, since he didn't object to colonization but only how it was being done (since the brutal practices of the Spanish impeded the Catholic church's efforts at evangelizing). He presents the native ...more
Sjervey
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is essentially a catalog of atrocities allegedly committed by the conquistadors that invaded the new world under the aegis of the Spanish government. I say allegedly but I do not mean to imply that atrocities did not occur. They certainly did. It;s just that there is a degree of repetition in this book tht makes me wonder what Bishop de las Casas agenda was in writing it. WHo was his intended audience? What his hoped for result? I haven't researched that and I feel it should be before ...more
James
Oct 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone, esp. history buffs
Horrifically detailed account of the enslaving of the Native Americans by the Spaniards. Non-fiction. Be careful - not for the faint of heart. I understand it was a huge expose in Europe when it was published several hundred years ago and led to the Pope banning the enslavement of Native Americans because they were declared to "have a soul." Hence, Africans were imported because they were still conveniently "soul-less."
Jane
Jan 01, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jane by: saintweasel@gmail.com
Shelves: owned, courses
what is this trash :( colonial critiques of colonial violence makes me feel gross because a) he didn't do anything to stop the bloodshed, and b) his arguments hinge on seeing Indigenous people as potential and especially suitable subjects for Christianity. another layer of saviour complex even if it acknowledges how violent Spanish colonialism during the 1400-1500s was. :(
Christina
omg this book is over a hundred pages that could all be summed up in one sentence: "The Spanish went to the New World and killed and raped and stole EVERYTHING from EVERYONE EVERYWHERE."
Peter Hutt Sierra
May 29, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this book a one star because this guy had no idea how to write in an engaging manner or how to construct a narrative. Do not mistake this for an opinion about the man or his life's work.

Based on all the reviews I'm seeing on this book I think its important for people to remember that while this is an important piece of history, we need to consider the motivations for and the circumstances behind its creation. As a result I've attached part of the paper that i wrote on this subject.

Bar
...more
Christopher Hunt
This book is in Old English, and has many errors besides, both of spelling, grammar and double wording.

“Nor do they understand any more of a God, whether he be made of wood, brass or clay, then they did above 100 years ago, New Spain (Mexico) only exempted, which is a small part of America, and was visited and instructed by the religious... yet Mexico with its confines were more favorably treated than the rest of the provinces.“
-Bartolomé de las Casas, “A Brief Account of the Destruction of the
...more
Xavier
Heritage Studies Book 7

Conquistador-turned-friar Bartolome De Las Casas wrote this account detailing the atrocities that the Spanish were subjecting onto the indigenous peoples. He wrote this to shed light onto the horrors and not only to inform the public but hoped that Charles V, the king of Spain at the time, would enact laws preventing further destruction and chaos in the Caribbean and Latin America.

I have read books on Christopher Columbus and the colonization of the Americas and this book
...more
SeaShore
I read this short book on the gutenberg website. This is not a book to be rated. It is a report of what this man witnessed in those days.
It covers the cruelty the Natives endured.

The Spaniards first assaulted the innocent Sheep, so qualified by the Almighty, as is premention'd, like most cruel Tygers, Wolves and Lions hunger-starv'd, studying nothing, for the space of Forty Years, after their first landing, but the Massacre of these Wretches, whom they have so inhumanely and barbarously butcher'
...more
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Bartolomé de las Casas, O.P. (November 1484 – 18 July 1566), was a 16th-century Spanish historian, social reformer and Dominican friar. He became the first resident Bishop of Chiapas, and the first officially appointed "Protector of the Indians." His extensive writings, the most famous being A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies and Historia de Las Indias, chronicle the first decades of ...more

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