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Encounters in the New World

A History in Documents

Jill Lepore

Publication Date - April 2002

ISBN: 9780195154917

176 pages
8 x 10 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $44.99

Emotional eyewitness accounts illustrate the early clash of cultures in the Americas spanning the years from Columbus's voyage in 1492 to the publication of the autobiography of a former slave, in 1789.


From Columbus's voyage in 1492 to the publication of the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano, a former slave, in 1789, Jill Lepore, winner of the distinguished Bancroft Prize for history, brings to life in exciting, first-person detail some of the earliest events in American history in Encounters in the New World.

Providing fascinating commentary along the way, Lepore seamlessly links together primary sources that illustrate the powerful clash of cultures in the Americas. Through emotional eyewitness accounts -- memoirs, petitions, diaries, captivity narratives, private correspondence -- formal documents, official reports, and journalistic reportage, dramatic stories of the New World are revealed, including:
* A Jesuit priest's chronicle of life among his Iroquois captors
* Aztec records of forbidding omens
* John Smith's account of cannibalism among the British residents of Jamestown
* Memoirs by members of Cortes's expedition
* Reminiscences of an escaped slave

A special 16-page color cartographic section, including maps from both Europe and North America, provides a fascinating look at how the maps' creators saw themselves and the world around them.


  • Tells the story of life in the New World
  • Links together primary sources that illustrate the powerful clash of cultures in the Americas
  • Memoirs by members of Cortes's expedition
  • Aztec records of forbidding omens

About the Author(s)

Jill Lepore is an Associate Professor of History at Boston University, where she also serves as Director of Undergraduate Studies for American and New England Studies. Her previous works include A is for American: Letters and Other Characters in the Newly United States (Knopf, 2002) and The Name of War: King Philip's War and American Identity (Knopf, 1998), Winner of the Bancroft Prize, Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, Berkshire Prize, and the New England Historical Association Prize, and a selection of the History Book Club.


"Students of American history will find plenty to chew on in this meaty, heavily illustrated entry in the new Pages from History series....Beginning with a full-color section, the pictures are...heavy on maps that chart the world's expansion in the European consciousness and including often fanciful scenes that in many cases are all that is left of vanished Native American cultures.... [Lepore] draws from a host of hard-to-find sources, and creates a ghastly, compelling picture of one of human history's pivotal moments."--Kirkus Reviews

"A wealth of primary source materials...an eye-opening look at the 'discovery' of the New World....Nearly every page features a black-and-white period reproduction, most with captions giving additional information...full-color reproductions of historical maps. In addition to offering valuable perspectives, this book will introduce readers to the challenges involved in understanding the past."--School Library Journal

"Presents primary source material--diaries, letters, maps, illustrations--and combines it with solid, in-depth examinations. Lepore provides essential background information and helps readers understand the context surrounding each document."--Horn Book

"The author does an excellent job of introducing these documents, filling in their historical context, and pointing out their salient features....This volume provides a balance to traditional texts by presenting the voices of people not often heard, who suffered from European colonization of the new world. Classroom discussions and individual reports will be enriched....Recommended."--Book Report

"Promises to be both useful and capable of holding student interest....Contains many clear, large, and easy-to-use charts, diagrams, and pictures. The sixteen-page map section is a delight that students will find fascinating....Well-edited and beautifully illustrated."--OAH Magazine of History

Table of Contents

    What is a Document?
    How to Read a Document
    On the Turtle's Back
    Why Europe?
    Dealing with the Documents

    1. Mapping the World

    Ptolemy's Revolution
    The Christian World
    An Expanding World
    America Emerges
    Vanishing Maps
    Lines and Circles

    2. First Encounters

    Prophecies, Plans, and Fantasies
    First Impressions
    Gods? Savages?
    Dividing the Sexes
    A Catalog of Nature
    Indians Abroad

    3. Conquest and Resistance

    Montezuma, Quetzalcoatl, and Cortes
    An Eight-Year Journey
    Invading the Interior
    The Great Debate
    Missions and Presidios

    4. Furs, Rivers, and Black Robes

    The Peoples of the Longhouse
    A New France
    The Society of Jesus
    New Worlds, New Women
    Covenants of War and Peace

    5. The English Arrive

    Go West
    Roanoke, the Lost Colony
    Powhatan and His People
    Founding Jamestown
    Pocahontas and Her Legacy

    6. Africans in America

    Tips for Slave Traders
    Ships of Death
    For Sale
    Africans' New Worlds
    Two Views
    Runaways and Rebels

    7. Planting New England

    Metacom's Rebellion
    Manitou and the City on a Hill
    Marking the Landscape
    Praying Indians

    Further Reading
    Text Credits
    Picture Credits

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