(Side note: I was recently introduced as, "Someone who can talk American history and celebrity gossip with equal enthusiasm." It's pretty much the best compliment I've ever received.)
Anyway, one of my favorite books is Howard Zinn’s A People's History of the United States. I don't understand why it's not mandatory reading in schools, but below are some excerpts from the very beginning of the book that get me all weepy every times.
And he has a federal holiday.Of the Arawak people on Hispanola, of whom estimates say there were nearly 2 million upon his arrival, Columbus wrote in his log, “They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance . . . They would make fine servants . . . With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want” (Zinn p. 1).The Indians “are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone” (Zinn p. 3). In exchange for ships and supplies for a second voyage, he offered the nobility of Spain “as much gold as they need . . . and as many slaves as they ask” (Zinn p. 4).Columbus forced all Arawaks “fourteen years or older to collect a certain amount of gold every three months. When they brought it, they were given copper tokens to hang around their necks. Indians found without a copper token had their hands cut off and bled to death” (Zinn p. 4).“In two years, through genocide, murder, mutilation, or suicide, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead . . . By the year 1515, there were perhaps fifty thousand Indians left. By 1550, there were five hundred. A report of the year 1650 shows none of the original Arawaks or their descendants left on the island” (Zinn p. 5).