American Pentimento: The Invention of Indians and the Pursuit of Riches

American Pentimento: The Invention of Indians and the Pursuit of Riches

American Pentimento: The Invention of Indians and the Pursuit of Riches

American Pentimento: The Invention of Indians and the Pursuit of Riches

Excerpt

But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe fol
lows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the
order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant,
but it will surely come.

Chief Seattle, 1887

Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please;
they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under
circumstances directly found, given, and transmitted from the past.

Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, 1852

One need only cross any international border to see that history, unlike fiction, rarely transcends international boundaries. Having spent summers over the past ten years haunting bookstores in Europe, South America, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, I am no longer surprised to find popular American fiction in translation or bound in different covers for foreign editions. Nor am I surprised to find Portuguese or Dutch versions of familiar books on computer programming languages, Web design, and Internet marketing. But in the sections labeled “history,” the majority of authors and subjects differ profoundly from those in comparable U.S. stores. Fiction travels well, as do the ubiquitous books on programming, but history rarely does.

For years I have written successfully for scholarly and popular Spanishspeaking and Portuguese-speaking Latin American audiences on a variety . . .

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