cover image On Savage Shores: How Indigenous Americans Discovered Europe

On Savage Shores: How Indigenous Americans Discovered Europe

Caroline Dodds Pennock. Knopf, $32.50 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5247-4926-2

In this fascinating and fluidly written revisionist history, Dodds Pennock (Bonds of Blood), a senior lecturer in international history at the University of Sheffield, pieces together a “mosaic of glimmering fragments” to explore how Indigenous people encountered and perceived European colonizers. Despite the lack of Native perspectives in the historical record, Dodds Pennock unearths the stories of Malintzin, a Nahua woman enslaved by the Mayans who became the “primary translator and aide” to conquistador Hernando Cortés during his invasion of Mexico; Essomericq, the son of a Brazilian chief who traveled to France and became “an active member of the local community, a successful businessman, and the father of a large and prosperous family” in the early 16th century; and other “go-betweens,” many of whom were kidnapped and brought to Europe, where they learned new languages, customs, and other valuable information, including “the accurate value of European goods.” Diligently and creatively mining primary source material, Dodds Pennock illuminates the Indigenous impact on European culture, including the introduction of chocolate, potatoes, and other now favorite foods, and the invaluable, if often unacknowledged, role Native peoples served in helping Europeans navigate the diverse cultures and geographies of colonized lands. This innovative and powerful account breaks down long-standing historical assumptions. (Jan.)