The Shame and the Sorrow

Dutch-Amerindian Encounters in New Netherland (Early American Studies)
Narrated by: Gloria Mason Martin
Length: 12 hrs and 20 mins
Categories: History, American
4.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Dutch, through the directors of the West India Company, purchased Manhattan Island in 1625. They had come to the New World as traders, not expecting to assume responsibility as the sovereign possessor of a conquered New Netherland. They did not intend to make war on the native peoples around Manhattan Island, but they did; they did not intend to help destroy native cultures, but they did; they intended to be overseas the tolerant, pluralistic, and antimilitaristic people they thought themselves to be - and in so many respects were - at home, but they were not.

For the Dutch intruders, establishing a settled presence away from the homeland meant the destabilization of the adventurers' values and self-regard. They found that the initially peaceful encounters with the indigenous people soon took on the alarming overtones of an insurgency as the influx of the Dutch led to a complete upheaval and eventual disintegration of the social and political worlds of the natives.

How are the Dutch to be judged? Donna Merwick, in The Shame and the Sorrow, asks this question. She points to a betrayal both of their own values and of the native peoples. She also directs us to the self-delusion of hegemonic control. Her work belongs alongside the best of today's postcolonial studies in the description of cross-cultural violence and subtle questioning of the nature of writing its history.

The book is published by University of Pennsylvania Press.

©2006 University of Pennsylvania Press (P)2019 Redwood Audiobooks

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Not a mere land grab

This book gave me a different idea on why the Dutch did not establish a colony of large numbers. New Netherlands is described as as settlements facing the ocean for trade rather than facing the interior for large settlement. It also shows that the Dutch were fighting the Spanish for their freedom at home, and how these circumstances were far different from the relatively ruthless English. The nature of Dutch trade, as presented here, meant that the Dutch recognized the Indians as the owners of the land, and then shows how that attitude slowly changed. A welcome relief from the way some histories lump all European encounters as variations of the same tune.