The Shaping of America: A Geographical Perspective on 500 Years of History, Volume 1: Atlantic America 1492-1800

The Shaping of America: A Geographical Perspective on 500 Years of History, Volume 1: Atlantic America 1492-1800

by D.W. Meinig

This entirely fresh interpretation of American history by a renowned historical geographer is the first in a projected three-volume series.

Richly illustrated with more then forty specially prepared maps and contemporary illustrations, this volume prompts us to rethink the settling of North America.A standard work in its field.

there is no better guide available.William Cronon, New York Times Book ReviewSimply the best book in the English language by a contemporary geographer I have read over the past forty-odd years, and one of the most important.

Rohrbough, Georgia Historical QuarterlyThis book is a masterpiece in the best and old sense of the word.Alfred W.

  • Series: The Shaping of America
  • Language: English
  • Category: Science
  • Rating: 4.20
  • Pages: 524
  • Publish Date: July 27th 1988 by Yale University Press
  • Isbn10: 0300038828
  • Isbn13: 9780300038828

What People Think about "The Shaping of America: A Geographical Perspective on 500 Years of History, Volume 1: Atlantic America 1492-1800"

1. America as a Continuation Our theme is the creation of a vast Atlantic circuit, a new human network of point and passages binding together four continents, three races, and a great diversity of regional parts. Without strong resistance, Europeans could set up a a trading post or an exploration base along this littoral, but much greater effort would be required for colonization. 3. The Creation of New Spain Hernando Cortez's discovery of the Aztecs in 1519 was the real discovery of America. 9. Generalizations: Sectors and Circuits of the Atlantic World Meinig points to the creation of two Axes of Exploration, one a fisheries axis in the north and another a southern tropical axis. Harvesting the wealth of the Grand Fishery was a massive undertaking involving Europeans in the Atlantic World long before the Puritans reached Plymouth Colony. 58) The Southern circuit, based largely on the pattern of trade winds, brought European manufacutres to the Iberian colonies and treasures from the colonies back to Iberia. In the Southern circuit, Dutch, French and English all made colonizing the Caribbean Island a greater or lesser priority as they moved to found their own versions of tropical planter societies. The end result of this networking was the development of a World System, with the colonies at the periphery producing raw materials to be shipped back to the metropolitan center in Northeastern Europe. Encounter and Exchange: Europeans and Indians Leaning on Francis Jennings's account of the "Invasion of America," Meinig sketches the macroencounter moving from initial contact, through depopulation and later stabilization, and finally ending with stable large societies in which the indigenes are reduced to marginalized subcultures. Centered around Montreal, Albany, Charles Town and Mobile, the complex cultural and economic interactions were distinctive in that they afforded greater power to the native populations because of the need for Europeans on the periphery to enter into reciprocal relationships and win the support of native peoples. In the third zone, we find the domain of European traders who opened up trading operations with Indians by moving deep into the interior.

It is a good book for that, but it is equally good reading from start to finish.

Meinig sets out three requirements for European nations seeking to build an empire: seafaring, conquest, and planting (of colonists). In this country, seafaring proved useful in warfare against Britain and the other North American empire builders, but both conquest and planting were essential as colonists and later the new Americans pushed their national boundary to the Pacific. The book's organization includes a brief introduction to each of the three sections, presentation of the history and geography relevant to the time and place, then a thoughtful, often philosophical, review and analysis of what has just been covered.

But it offered some insights not encountered before such what motivated German's to immigrate from 18th century Western Europe why Germans were slower to integrate into American society. p 134 Discussion about the breakdown of rural fabric in Western Europe. It was the result of large numbers who arrived about the same time in an English colony amidst a variety of peoples and, although they may have come from many different European areas-- the Palatine, Alsace, Hesse, Baden, Bavaria, Switzerland,-- they quickly gained a new awareness of how much they shared in language and general culture and sought to settle amongst their own kind.

Covering over 300 years of "geographic history" in 500 pages means much of the book has to been spent covering the regular history that's available in any college textbook.