Reviewed by Ray Zimmerman
“How, then, do we come to know the land, to discover what more may be there, more than merchantable timber, grazeable prairies, recoverable ores, damable water, netable fish?”
Lopez poses this question well into his short book which tells the story of colonialism in the Americas beginning with the first landfall in 1492. He draws on historical records, including the writings of Bartolome de las Casas, a man who accompanied the conquistadores and later became a priest. He describes some of the atrocities committed in those early days and claims that they set a precedent of wealth at all costs which reverberates through Manifest Destiny and contemporary politics. He names many of the tribes evicted from their lands and mourns the languages and cultures lost. He proposes a new relationship with the land and the native peoples which resonates in the debates about landscape and native peoples underway right now in 2017.