After reading the first chapter of A People’s History of the United States, to say I am eager to keep reading and learning from this book would be an understatement. I loved how authentic the entire section felt, explaining the beginning of the discovery of the Americas without sugarcoating any details, widening my perspective on everything I was previously taught about Columbus and the early world explorers. I found many details astonishing and almost unbelievable, and found myself angry and disappointed in past textbooks, articles, and lectures that left this kind of information out to fit the mold of traditional history lessons. I believe all history textbooks should take notes from this book- not only because they need to update their lessons and details, but also to adapt their way of relaying the information. Instead of boring, monotonous facts we have all heard before, this was descriptive, fresh, and much more relevant, which helped establish a greater connection to its readers.
I also enjoyed reading the small excerpts written by the people of that time period, giving the reader a firsthand look into what was really going on at the time, and the writer’s opinions on it. I liked how it broke up the actual author’s text, adding evidence and proof to support their claim. I found Las Casas’ accounts of the way the Spaniards treated the Indians very compelling, especially when he said, “My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature, and now I tremble as I write” (7). It inspired me to begin writing in a journal again, because who knows what history books will want in 100 years!
Finally, I could not help thinking about the comparisons between the conquerors and the people of today. Although the world has changed considerably since 1492, primal human instincts are still the same- people desire things that are valuable to assert their dominance, and will stop at nothing to procure these things. Instead of valuable gold and land, they are pay checks and houses. People yearn for status, power, and wealth, and I don’t know if that will ever change, or what that will look like in the future.