Stolen Continents: Conquest and Resistance in the Americas

stolen-continentsTenth Anniversary Edition

An international bestseller, Stolen Continents is a history of the Americas unlike any other. This fascinating volume chronicles the conquest and survival of five great American cultures—in their own words. Ronald Wright give voice to the Aztec, Maya, Inca, Cherokee, and Iroquois, quoting their authentic speech and writing and illuminating their strange, tragic experience—including, in a new afterword, incidents that bring us into the twenty-first century. Covering the more than five hundred years since Europeans first set foot in the New World, Wright weaves contemporary accounts with his own incisive historical narrative to created an indispensable record, one that is powerful, vivid, and accurate.


A Book of the YearGordon Montador Award
CBA Nomination Author of the Year 1992


“A counter-history that challenges all of our comfortable assumptions.”
Los Angeles Times

“Fine and thought provoking.”
Washington Post

“Excellent… Redresses the balance between the invaders and the invaded.”
Sunday Times

“Shows the devastation perpetrated by Columbus and others on the native peoples of the Americas.”
New York Times Book Review

“Wright goes about his task with white-hot passion.”
Los Angeles Times

“Wright is a historical philosopher with a profound understanding of other cultures: this book is a balanced and moving contribution to the vicious debate aroused.”

“Clear and concise history detailing the experiences of Native Americans on both continents from 1492 to 1990, from travel-writer and Mayan specialist Wright (Time Among the Maya, 1989; On Fiji Islands, 1986; etc.). Rather than attempt a comprehensive rendering of the centuries of genocide practiced by those who came in the wake of Columbus, Wright sensibly opts to present a few of the “highlights”. The savagery practiced against five major cultures—the Maya, Inca, Aztec, Cherokee, and Iroquois—and their responses appear in three stages, encompassing five hundred years: the initial periods of contact in each case; the hard and bloody struggles of these peoples once the battle was joined; and the modern phase, in which resistance continues along with the resolve to endure. Using contemporary native accounts wherever possible, in the belief that the white version has been heard often enough, Wright recounts Montezuma’s failed strategy to welcome Cortez as an equal, which led to his palace becoming a prison; the Cherokee Nation’s willingness two centuries later to emulate Western civilization, which only brought forced removal to Oklahoma and death along the Trail of Tears; and other base betrayals. Even with their societies largely destroyed, however, retention of an indigenous identity for the Incan descendants in Peru and their Mayan counterparts in Guatemala, and events such as last year’s tense standoff between defiant Iroquois and thousands of Canadian troops can be seen, Wright says, as evidence that a determined native resistance continues. Familiar facts but a distinctive viewpoint: an intensely partisan chronicle of centuries of dishonor, written in a fluid, vivid style.”
Kirkus Reviews

Format: Paperback, 430 pages
Publisher: Penguin Canada
ISBN 10: 0-143-01500-1
ISBN 13: 978-0-143-01500-0

Copyright © Ronald Wright 2015
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