The volume is, as the critics note, full of generalizations about the power of Crosby foregrounds the Columbian exchange not as a series of political or economic actions, but as a series of biological exchanges–of disease, animals, plants, and human materials–that transformed global ecology. Though the thesis of this book as well as many of the arguments supporting it are just theories, which are impossible to definitively prove or disproved, Crosby uses historical and scientific fact to make those arguments. It would be the slaughter of a very large portion of the human race. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. Very few of man’s cultivated plants originated in Africa. Biological and Cultural Consequences of The note it ends on seems reall Elucidating and fascinating read concerning the movement of flora, fauna, and people between the Old and the New Worlds and the enormous changes it created for the future of the world.

Rather than simply a tale of social and cultural systems of indigenous peoples being dominated by invading Europeans, herein we see the partial subjugation of ecosystems by foreign agents. The surviving young had no one to lead them. I recommend that you consider the contrast between the flexibly nosed tapir of South America and the more extravagantly nosed elephant of Africa. Feb 17, Jessica rated it really liked it Shelves: As for the agricultural contribution of European world, the rice, wheat, barley, oats, rye, turnips, onions, cabbage, lettuce, peaches, pears, sugar.

The Columbian exchange by Alfred W. Crosby

It discusses the spread of plants and animals and their migration and evolution throughout the world, along with the exchange of diseases thesiss ideas. That 10 minute video pretty much covers th If you have somehow made it through school without having been exposed to the concept of the Columbian exchange, I would recommend this book.

Crosby details multiple episodes of the Europeans doing destructive things like releasing pigs, goats and cattle to ravage the thhe, but doesn’t systematically connect the dots between the man-made changes in the environment and the resulting increased risk of epidemics.

In a review of a later edition, Frederick H.

The Columbian exchange by Alfred W. Crosby |

But Crosby is never one to simply settle on the circumstantial, and so, goes further. Very few of man’s cultivated plants originated in Africa. The fact that the discussion of a disease of the Western hemisphere afflicted the East at all, though, is an element of the history that frequently goes without commented.


It was really quite easy. Crosby shows how the disease exchange not only affected the Indians by decimating their population, but also how it changed the rest of the world as syphilis would evolve from a deadly sexually transmitted disease to a milder sexually transmitted disease that is still around today.

One thing I found was that the author seems to be overly biased when it comes to the areas of religion, which I felt was rather unneeded when it came to the subject matter in this speci This book is very well written, and a great resource on the New World and Old World. Crosby also points out positives though – Native Americans in central North America and parts of South America adopted the horse really fast, and this allowed them to resist Europeans for many generations. Leave a Reply Cancel reply.

Be the first to ask a question about The Columbian Exchange. As stated earlier one of the strengths of the book is the fact that Crosby freely admits when he makes an argument that cannot be conclusively proven or disproved.

The only American domesticated animals of any kind were the alpaca and the llama. In the first of six essays, Crosby describes how these two worlds developed in isolation, and then focuses on the profound impact they had on each other through the exchange of plants, animals and diseases.

I would have rather read about what cultural exchanges took place, instead of the author’s personal feelings on god. Then, I fell upon it, starting with smallpox. Overall, the book was good.

It’s a must read for any historian within the Atlantic World. America had a number of crops that could grow easily in almost any soil. For example, he argues that the “Indians” died before they could be oppressed by the Europeans, but then tells how the Spaniards were enslaving natives right away and that the big epidemics didn’t come till a generation later.


The rapid spread of corn, potatoes, chilies, and manioc fundamentally altered the very patterns of life and existence in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Much of the work is an argument simply for the importance of the topic, something which would go unquestioned today. Crosby’s main point is inconsistent with the facts in the book itself.

the columbian exchange alfred crosby thesis

I was a young American historian teaching undergraduates. But in every other regard the book has been superseded.

When you wrote The Columbian Exchangethis was a new idea—telling history from an ecological perspective. The New World had only a few, possibly excahnge humans had been present there and had lived in dense populations, cities, for a short time compared to the Old. The result is a comprehensive historicisation of the disease that straddles epidemiology and close readings of various documents.

So, you think you have the idea of the book all packaged up in that neat little title that not only sums the book up so well, but has become a buzzword itself to explain the whole process.

For example, writer tells us about deaths of head chiefs, which were incredibly influential for the entire lives of Indians societies: This book was published in the early s, and some of Crosby’s ideas have been accepted exxchange common sense while some of the premises he rests his ideas on have since come into exchhange. Many of the most spectacular and the most influential examples of this are in the category of the exchange of organisms between the Eastern and Columvian Hemispheres.

With the marriage of my two favorite fields, there’s pretty much no chance I am not going to love it.

the columbian exchange alfred crosby thesis

Columbus and the Europeans and Africans brought many new plant and animal species to America, including pigs, horses, cattle, and oxen. Crosby also discusses the probabl Provocative, thoughtful read.

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