There are many ways to write history. Mostly, historians focus on a specific period, e.g. Geoffrey Parker’s The Dutch Revolt, or a ‘national’ history like Spain edited by Raymond Carr. But this is history with a bird’s-eye view. Felipe Fernández-Armesto presents us the history of the American continent as a whole. Starting with the first humans, coming from Asia, to penetrate the vast continent, up to the year 2001. The descent of these hunters to Middle and South America where several new cultures were formed. The arrival of Spanish and Portuguese conquistadores way before the English, the French and the Dutch that seemed to be left with the remainders of the continent.
This kind of cross-section is very interesting and tends to give some surprising facts. Such a wide scope in a small book (only 170 pages) sometimes makes you want to read more details. Fernández-Armesto tries to remedy this with an extensive ‘Bibliographical Essay’. For me, this was a thought-provoking read.