Book Review on William Cronon’s Changes in the Land
1. Your opening paragraph should briefly address these two questions: In general, what is this book about? What is Cronon’s thesis?
2. When Europeans first arrived in New England, what did they find? What were the most important ways the New England environment differed from that of Europe? In what ways did they find that environment to be of value to them?
3. Explain how the New England environment –plants, animals, climate, topography accounted for the diversity found in the Indian tribes that lived there? For example, how does it explain why northern New England tribes differed from those in southern New England? What were those differences? In what ways did the New England environment shape or influence the development of the lifestyles and society of the tribes that lived there? How did Indians shape and manipulate the environment to fit their lifestyles?
4. Describe the respective roles of men and women in Indian society.
5. The Indian view of property and land possession differed significantly from that of Europeans. Briefly discuss how the Indians viewed property and the possession of the land. How did the European’s views on those subjects lead them to be critical of the Indian way of life and to justify their taking of Indian land?
6. Discuss the impact of European diseases on Indian populations and society. Why were the Indians so susceptible to these diseases? In what ways did disease change and devastate Indian society?
7. How did the European conquest of New England dramatically alter its environment? In particular, discuss how the European demand for certain plant and animal products change the character of that environment. How did European farming practices affect New England’s environment? Your discussion should include two key examples cited by Cronon.
8. What did you think of the book? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?
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