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Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England (Englisch) Taschenbuch – September 2003

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""Changes in the Land exemplifies, and realizes, the promise of ecological history with stunning effect. Setting his sights squarely on the well-worn terrain of colonial New England, [Cronon] fashions a story that is fresh, ingenious, compelling and altogether important. His approach is at once vividly descriptive and profoundly analytic."--"John Demos, The New York Times Book Review
"A superb achievement: Cronon has changed the terms of historical discourse regarding colonial New England."--Wilcomb E. Washburn, director of the Office of American Studies, Smithsonian Institution
"A cogent, sophisticated, and balanced study of Indian-white contact. Gracefully written, subtly argued, and well informed, it is a work whose implications extend far beyond colonial New England."--Richard White, Michigan State University
"This is ethno-ecological history at its best . . . American colonial history will never be the same after this path-breaking, exciting book."--Wilbur R. Jacobs, University of California, Santa Barbara
"A brilliant performance, from which all students of early American history will profit."--Edmund S. Morgan, Yale University


""Changes in the Land "exemplifies, and realizes, the promise of ecological history with stunning effect. Setting his sights squarely on the well-worn terrain of colonial New England, [Cronon] fashions a story that is fresh, ingenious, compelling and altogether important. His approach is at once vividly descriptive and profoundly analytic."--"John Demos, The New York Times Book Review "
"A superb achievement: Cronon has changed the terms of historical discourse regarding colonial New England."--Wilcomb E. Washburn, director of the Office of American Studies, Smithsonian Institution
"A cogent, sophisticated, and balanced study of Indian-white contact. Gracefully written, subtly argued, and well informed, it is a work whose implications extend far beyond colonial New England."--Richard White, Michigan State University
"This is ethno-ecological history at its best . . . American colonial history will never be the same after this path-breaking, exciting book."--Wilbur R. Jacobs, University of California, Santa Barbara
"A brilliant performance, from which all students of early American history will profit."--Edmund S. Morgan, Yale University


"Changes in the Land "exemplifies, and realizes, the promise of ecological history with stunning effect. Setting his sights squarely on the well-worn terrain of colonial New England, [Cronon] fashions a story that is fresh, ingenious, compelling and altogether important. His approach is at once vividly descriptive and profoundly analytic. "John Demos, The New York Times Book Review"

A superb achievement: Cronon has changed the terms of historical discourse regarding colonial New England. "Wilcomb E. Washburn, director of the Office of American Studies, Smithsonian Institution"

A cogent, sophisticated, and balanced study of Indian-white contact. Gracefully written, subtly argued, and well informed, it is a work whose implications extend far beyond colonial New England. "Richard White, Michigan State University"

This is ethno-ecological history at its best . . . American colonial history will never be the same after this path-breaking, exciting book. "Wilbur R. Jacobs, University of California, Santa Barbara"

A brilliant performance, from which all students of early American history will profit. "Edmund S. Morgan, Yale University""

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

William Cronon is the Frederick Jackson Turner Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin--Madison. His book "Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West" won the Bancroft Prize in 1992.

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Format: Taschenbuch
The book was originally written in 1983 and this 2003 edition contains an ample foreword and afterword by the author. The main text covers only 185 pages, in which Cronon decribes the impact of Western colonisation on the environment of New England. The remaining part of the book includes extensive notes and bibliography.
The author starts with a description of the natural landscape before the 1620's, showing the significant impact of the Indians on their environment. This background is then contrasted in various chapters with the changes the English settlers caused on this environment with their very different use of natural resources, from hunting and fur trade, lumbering and animal husbandry to crop farming.
Cronon outlines intended as well as unintended consequences of such use, such as changes in regional climates and soil productivity, caused by deforestation or the introduction of new species, and their final impacts also on the English settlements.
He also confronts the differences in Indian and European concepts of property and trade, as well as the effect of such differences on their cohabitation and on their environment.
The book covers the 17th and 18th centuries until the eve of the Revolution. Chosing the background of New England helps focussing the argumentation, while still covering farming as well as northern wood areas. Moreover, this region obviously has seen the confrontation of Indian and Western concepts of land use at a very early stage of colonial history, when also the English settlers were not yet fully integrated in a market economy.
All of this is presented in a comrehensive form, delivering its main point concisely, while including a lot of interesting details and contemporary sources, and all in all makes a good reading.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9bdccccc) von 5 Sternen 57 Rezensionen
28 von 29 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b3ca738) von 5 Sternen A seminal work 29. April 2006
Von Douglas S. Wood - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
William Cronon's book was a seminal effort in 1983 that established a new way of thinking about history. It has stood the test of time. The book describes the modes and manner of the ecological impacts that English settlers had on the New England landscape in the colonial era. Some impacts were intentional, others not so much. For example, by the time first permanent settlements were established beginning at Plymouth in 1620, many Indian villages had already been devastated by European diseases (Europeans, especially fishermen had been frequenting the New England fisheries for decades).

The English settlers brought the English methods of farming, new concepts of property, and a market economy that overwhelmed the tribes and transformed the landscape. Forests were cleared, beaver were over-hunted, fences erected, new and domesticated animals and plants were introduced.

An added bonus in this 20th anniversary edition is a delightful afterword by the author reflecting on the book and how it came to be only through repeated serendipity. An added bonus for Wisconsin readers are his reflections on growing up in Madison as the son of a UW history professor and how those experiences shaped his professional life.

Cronon sagely instructs us to asks 'how so Alien a Then could have become so familiar a Now'. Changes in the Land also wrought changes in the way we think.
20 von 20 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b3ca888) von 5 Sternen Fascinating and far-reaching 29. September 2011
Von Dienne - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
I only picked this up in support of the author after I read a bit about his role in the recent Wisconsin protests and the repercussions he faced therefor. I didn't actually expect to like the book. It sounded like a dry, academic study of a topic I wasn't much interested in. I couldn't have been more wrong. This book is not only fascinating and illuminative of a much overlooked and misunderstood period in history, but it is also relevant to aspects of today's political and economic struggles.

Admittedly, the book gets off to a slow start. The first section explores what we are able to know about New England ecology before and during the colonial period, and the limitations on how we know it. The first chapter of the second section is an exploration of the diversity of New England ecology, both between the general northern and southern regions, as well as among the various "patchworks" of ecological areas within the two regions. These sections form a necessary base for the remainder of the book, but they are rather dry and academic.

But beginning with the chapter "Seasons of Want and Plenty", Cronon gets into the real meat of his argument: the differences between the ways Indians vs. colonists used the land and the fundamental incompatibility of the two.

I learned in school that the Indians had no system for surveying land, nor even a concept of land ownership. In fact, I learned, they didn't even believe land could be owned, and out of ignorance or for sport they would often sell the same parcel to different colonial groups, or to the same group multiple times. Cronon explodes the fallacy in that understanding. Indians did indeed have an understanding of land ownership, it's just that their understanding was fundamentally different from the colonists' understanding. Indians tended to own the land in common with their tribes, and various land use rights were recognized between and within the tribes. The right to hunt on certain land, for instance, could be sold - even sold to different parties - while still maintaining tribal ownership of the land itself.

But to the colonists, however, land ownership included all rights thereto and accrued to the individual owner thereof (although most colonial villages did have common areas of land). Therefore, one of the first acts of each successive group of colonists was to mark the boundaries of their property, generally by the use of a fence, thereby prohibiting any use by any other parties. From the start, the two ways of life were mutually exclusive.

Although the Indians, particularly in Southern New England, did practice agriculture, it was a semi-nomadic form of agriculture that depended on land use more than land ownership. The Indians tilled a particular field only for a few years before moving on and clearing another field, allowing the previous one to lie fallow and become overgrown. The Indians also made great use of controlled burning to clear fields. This prevented the decrease in soil fertility caused by overfarming, as well as creating great areas of borderlands between woodlands and fields, areas particularly hospitable to various berry plants and wildlife used for food and hides. These practices created the conditions for the great abundance of food, trees, and wildlife which so astounded the colonists.

Unlike the Indians who saw this "natural" abundance as simply a means of sustaining life according to the season, the colonists saw each particular resource as a commodity to be owned, used, exploited and sold for profit. Trees, for instance, were in great demand for building houses and ships, fuel for warmth during the long winters, and export especially because of England's tree shortage at the time. The means by which the colonists claimed, harvested and transported these resources, however, ultimately undermined the conditions necessary to supply such resources in such abundance. Trees were rapidly cleared to create fields, thereby leaving a dearth of trees for other purposes. Fields were planted at maximum levels with single crops year after year, thereby depleting soil fertility. Beaver and other animals were hunted to near extinction, at least within New England.

In fact, Cronon argues, this commoditization of the resources of the New World was the beginning of the rise of the capitalist economy in America, even though capitalism as it's understood today didn't truly develop until the Industrial Revolution.

Cronon's book is somewhat slim, but it is dense. It is packed with consideration of how little things impacted the ecology and economy in big and often unexpected ways. The colonists brought many unfamiliar organisms to the New World - seeds that grew to become invasive species, pigs that wreaked havoc with farming and gathering of berries, diseases for which the Indians had no defense. While many of the changes the colonists wrought were intentional, many were not, but the impact was just as great.

In addition to being a sweeping academic survey, Cronon's book is also a masterful narrative. He's not only listing the changes in different plant and animal species and the differences in land use, but he's telling a story of how those changes affected human lives, both the Indians and the colonists. It is a truly engaging account of the causes and effects which form the basis of the earliest history of our country and which still have echoes today.

Cronon was, it seems, a bit of a pioneer with this book. I've recently read several books which explore how advances in anthropology, archeology and ecology have led to enormous gains in knowledge of Indian cultures and have produced radical changes in our understanding thereof, but Cronon helped to set these advances in motion simply by considering and exploring the impact of seemingly small and minor things that most of us take for granted. Highly recommended.
22 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b3ca7f8) von 5 Sternen Should be Interesting to Non-New Englanders 27. Mai 2004
Von S. Pactor - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Even though I live in San Diego, I found this book to be well worth the read. Dense but short, "Changes in the Land" gives a close reading to the ecological impact of British colonization in New England. As Cronon states in his conclusion, this transformation has ramifications far outside New England, since the environmental degradation that accompanied early colonization forced settlers farther and farther afield.
Twenty years after it was published, the scholarship is still, what I would consider "cutting edge". Cronon cuts across disciplines and primary sources to produce a nuanced model of the interrelationship of humans and the environment. Cronon's work is just as interesting for his (to me, anyway) novel technique of writing a history where the personalities of humans take a back seat to the consequnces of their decisions.
The effect is at once radical and main stream. Radical, in that Cronon strips away traditional justifications for human decisions that reinforce the implicit assumptions that cause those same decisions. Main stream, in that he manages to stay away from the hyperbole and argument that plague revisions of history.
I've also read Cronon's "Nature's Metropolis", which is his book about the development of the city of Chicago. I would recommend that book, as well as this one, to anyone interested in the subjects that Cronon covers. His scholarship is top notch.
20 von 22 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b3ca954) von 5 Sternen Want to know how ecology can help us to understand history? 9. Juni 2006
Von T. P. Ang - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
This is not so much a book about New England per se as on how ecology should mould our understanding of history. For too long historians have ignored the ecological/environmental dimension to history, especially colonial history; and Cronon's book is one among a number of path-breaking works that serves to redress the balance.

As Cronon convincingly argues, the strength of ecological analysis in writing history lies in its ability to uncover processes and long-term changes which might otherwise remain invisible. Indeed, ecological change is used throughout the book as a window through which to uncover the complex long-term changes wrought by the arrival of the puritans to New England since the seventeenth century. The full impact of European colonisation cannot be understood apart from the new relationship they established with the New England ecosystem though their commoditisation of resources and their involvement in the international capitalist economy, both of which greatly impacted the land and its previous inhabitants, the Indians. These changes were cultural as much as they were simply environmental or economic: the arrival of the pig, for one, was bound in a cultural relationship to, among other things, the fence, the dandelion, and a very special definition of property.

Of course, the book also offers up fascinating insights into the changing New England landscape from 1600 to 1800. It corrects misconceptions about an unchanging primeval forest before the arrival of the Europeans, or of Indians as passive agents in subsequent changes wrought. It also establishes the origins of the environmental problems in the region such as deforestation, soil erosion, and resultant climate changes - the legacy of which we still live with today.

If this book interests you, so should other landmark studies on ecological or environmental history, such as Alfred Crosby's `Ecological Imperialism' or Donald Worster's `Dust Bowl'.
9 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9b3cafb4) von 5 Sternen An important piece of New England History 13. August 2004
Von Eric Peterson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
What an outstanding work for what was essentially a one year graduate paper that accidentally became a book. This is not as thorough as what he would end up writing for his dissertation: Nature's Metropolis, but still an excellent work! Traces the natural history of New England and explores the difference between European and Native American relationships with the land and contrasts their concepts of "land ownership." This difference led to a significant amount of the conflicts between Europeans and Native Americans. The book discusses the process of the transforming the natural world to a series of commodities that largely shapes our current view of the natural world.

This book is an essential work in the understanding of New England, but does not tell the complete story. One should also look to Alfred Crosby's "Ecological Imperialism" for more of the story. Also Carolyn Merchant's "Ecological Revolution" is a must read if you are interested in this topic. Her book goes much deeper into exploring the inseparable role of human social dynamics in the natural history of New England. Be warned! Merchant's book is not for the casual reader or amateur historian. It is difficult reading and very complex social history. It is geared towards a graduate school audience. Reading Cronin's book first will likely make Merchant's book more understandable. One might also want to check out Theodore Steinberg's "Nature Incorporated" if you're really interested in New England's environmental history. This discusses water as a commodity, its industrialization and how this view came to pass. This is very informative, but not very exciting read. I once heard someone call it "the driest book on water ever written." This is not to say however that it is not worthwhile to someone really interested in the subject.
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