Essay about Book Review

Submitted By jayebird88
Words: 1009
Pages: 5

Jasmine Haines
HTY 181
Andrien Kenneth J. The Human Tradition in Colonial Latin America. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Lanham, MD. Second Edition 2013 When we learn history in typical classroom settings we learn about important events and significant people. Battles being waged and the generals leading the troops to victory, kings and the declarations they made, explorers and their discoveries. Human history is made up of all this but it is also made up of people like you and me and how these events affect us in our daily lives. My father will always remember where he was when he found out JFK had been shot and the aftermath of the mourning nation. I still remember the tremble in my principal’s voice as he announced a plane had hit the World Trade Center that day in September, and the nervousness and fear that still echoes in this country today. I chose this book, The Human Tradition in Colonial Latin America by Kenneth J. Andrien, because I wanted a personal account of life during colonial Latin America. I wanted a more intimate portrayal of how race, gender, class and religion influenced the daily lives of colonists. This book is an anthology with many contributing authors. Stories touch on many themes like racial identity, gender roles, violence, justice and religious conflicts told through the perspective of real people living in the colonies. There is a refreshing balance of male and female perspectives as well as stories from many different locations throughout colonial Latin America. Spanning a vast amount of land and time the stories told highlight the social tension and daily struggles of real and relatable people during this time period. The book is divided into 3 sections. Part I focuses on the first conquests in 1492 through 1610. Part II examines the "mature colonial order” from 1620 through 1740. Finally, part III spans the later years of the colonies, 1740 through 1825 and highlights reform and rebellion against the crown. Each part contains within it five to six vignettes, totaling 17 stories altogether. Each vignette is written about a different person by a different scholar so the tone changes throughout the book as well as topics and themes. There was an informative introduction provided by the editor, Andrien, and each vignette also includes a nice contextual intro as well. This book successfully demonstrates the real life ups and downs of this exciting, terrifying, and unstable time period through the eyes of everyday people. That isn’t to say that some of these people were not remarkable, just not kings or noblemen we are accustom from learning about. I enjoyed this text. I liked how after taking this class for a while I had context for the tales being told. I do think if you hadn’t taken a history class on colonial Latin American history prior to reading this you would still benefit from the information and stories being told. Sections were chronologically divided and I felt easily flowed together. Addressing real social issues of race, gender and class from ordinary points of view of colonists as we watch the colonies themselves grow and struggle under the rule of the distant crown. I liked having a name and identity as topics I studied in class were addressed. For me, I love literature and in a way this was a very nice hybrid of what I want from a story and what I need from a history lesson.
A favorite story account of mine was Ana María Presta story of doña Isabel Sisa, who utilized the Spanish legal system to attempt to assert her rights to property by the traditional Andean inheritance practices. Having a name and an underdog hero helped me better understand what life was like for a woman during this time as well as empathize with her. Life for a sixteenth century woman was so different than my own and while gender