Download After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection by James West Davidson, Mark Lytle PDF

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By James West Davidson, Mark Lytle

For greater than twenty-five years, After the Fact has guided scholars via American historical past and the equipment used to check it. In dramatic episodes that circulate chronologically via American background, this best-selling e-book examines a wide number of themes together with oral proof, images, ecological facts, movies and tv courses, church and city documents, census facts, and novels. even if for an introductory survey or for a old tools path, After in actual fact the correct textual content to introduce readers, step-by-step, to the detective paintings and analytical methods historians use once they are literally doing background.

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Extra info for After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection

Sample text

After three years of wandering in search of an empire to conquer, most of De Soto's men no longer had the original clothes on their backs. Modern paintings of the expedition show the conquistadors with the armored helmets, vest­ like leather jerkins, breeches, and boots. But by April 1542 native substitutes had replaced much of that equipment. From Indian blankets "were made loose coats and cassocks," one member of the expedition reported. " The area around the Mississippi where the expedition was encamped seemed as thickly settled as any De Soto had encountered.

When asking did not work, he would scour the neigh­ borhood until he found the chief, whom he then held hostage to ensure the expedition's safety as it passed through a region. The Spanish possessed crossbows and primitive muskets-"arquebuses"­ but these weapons provided little advantage in battle. In the time it took to reload either the musket or crossbow, an Indian could shoot six or seven arrows, using a large and powerful bow. A typical specimen was perhaps five feet tall and as thick as a man's wrist.

Along the Atlantic Coast, Indians set fires to keep down the scrub brush. The resulting forest was almost parklike, with large, widely spaced trees, few shrubs, and plenty of succulent grasses. 8 AFTER THE FACT: THE ART OF HISTORICAL DETECTION Few European colonists understood the Indians' ecological role. Still, as they penetrated the interior of North America over the next two centuries, they were continually struck by the profusion of wildlife. " In Virginia, English settlers fording streams sometimes found that the hooves of their horses killed fish,the rivers were so thick with them.

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