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On Savage Shores: How Indigenous Americans Discovered Europe

Caroline Dodds Pennock

1 Reviews

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General & world history

A groundbreaking new history by the UK's only Aztec historian, exploring how the great civilisations of the Americas - the Aztecs, Maya, Totonacs, Inuit and others - discovered Europe

'On Savage Shores is an untold story of colonial history, both epic and intimate, and a thrilling revelation' Adam Rutherford, author of How To Argue With A Racist

A landmark work of narrative history that shatters our previous Eurocentric understanding of the Age of Discovery by telling the story of the Indigenous Americans who journeyed across the Atlantic to Europe after 1492

We have long been taught to presume that modern global history began when the 'Old World' encountered the 'New', when Christopher Columbus 'discovered' America in 1492. But, as Caroline Dodds Pennock conclusively shows in this groundbreaking book, for tens of thousands of Aztecs, Maya, Totonacs, Inuit and others - enslaved people, diplomats, explorers, servants, traders - the reverse was true: they discovered Europe. For them, Europe comprised savage shores, a land of riches and marvels, yet perplexing for its brutal disparities of wealth and quality of life, and its baffling beliefs. The story of these Indigenous Americans abroad is a story of abduction, loss, cultural appropriation, and, as they saw it, of apocalypse - a story that has largely been absent from our collective imagination of the times.

From the Brazilian king who met Henry VIII to the Aztecs who mocked up human sacrifice at the court of Charles V; from the Inuk baby who was put on show in a London pub to the mestizo children of Spaniards who returned 'home' with their fathers; from the Inuit who harpooned ducks on the Avon river to the many servants employed by Europeans of every rank: here are a people who were rendered exotic, demeaned, and marginalised, but whose worldviews and cultures had a profound impact on European civilisation. Drawing on their surviving literature and poetry and subtly layering European eyewitness accounts against the grain, Pennock gives us a sweeping account of the Indigenous American presence in, and impact on, early modern Europe.

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Praise for On Savage Shores: How Indigenous Americans Discovered Europe

  • On Savage Shores is an untold story of colonial history, both epic and intimate, and a thrilling revelation, not about the invasion of the Americas by Europeans, but the journeys of Indigenous people to Europe. Caroline Dodds Pennock is the perfect guide, cannily and eloquently shifting the axis of global history away from its eurocentric grip. - Adam Rutherford, author of How To Argue With a Racist

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