Reflection of The Columbian Exchange Crosby, Alfred W. ” The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. ” Duke University Press, 2003 Before reading this book, when I think of the Columbian Exchange, a song/poem I had to memorize in elementary school about Christopher Columbus comes into my mind. ” In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, he had three ships and left from Spain, he sailed through sunshine, wind and rain” I see Christopher Columbus setting sail to find his route to the Orient, the “New World” in his three ships; the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria.
However, after reading this book, I have gained a new understanding and deep perception of the Columbian Exchange. In The Columbian Exchange, Crosby gives an excellent and detailed chaptered analyse, as well as the histography of the importance of the discovery , clash of biological and cultural consequences between the new and old world. In the beginning of the first chapter, Crosby gives a contrast on how the discovery of the new world, made by Christopher Columbus, and other explores made a huge impact. His analyse of the discovery of the new world brought changes/ideologies in the religious and biological fields.
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New biological evidence from the plants and animals, to the indigenous Native Americans, questioned many about the monogeneticism of creation. Such scientist such as Charles Darwin developed the evolution theory based on the evidence he saw in the Galapagos Islands. In the second chapter, Crosby gives his argument on how the Europeans were able to conquer the Americas so easily. Fatal diseases and high mortality-rate among the indigenous native were the key killers in the new world. He gives many examples from primary source evidence such as journals and statements by the European conquistadors and missionaries.
In the third chapter, Crosby focuses on the European introduction of their plants and animals to the new world. These introductions changed the biological balance in the new world. New plants and the domestication of the animals had to adapt in their new surroundings. In the fourth chapter, Crosby focuses on syphilis. He gives an detailed analyses on the origins of syphilis from old world Europe, to the new world. He traces the sexual disease from the old world before 1493 and gives primary evidence from physicians and scientist on the effects from the disease.
Syphilis was carried from the conquistadors and the African slaves that took a devastating high death mortality among the natives in the new world. Crosby said, ” No civilization has ever satisfactorily solved the problem of sex. ” In the final chapter, Crosby analyzes the food exchange between the old and new world from the Columbian Exchange. New foods such as the potato and corn from the new world to the old world became part of the European diet and culture. Crosby said, “Some American foods have been so thoroughly adopted by the Europeans that one cannot imagine what their national diets must have been like before Columbus.
Even today, the food exchanges among different countries are still in effect and active. The Columbian Exchange is a well collection of essays by Crosby. Throughout his analyses in the five chapters, he also gives pictures such as primary drawings to his argument as well as charts and maps. His primary source also gives readers how certain things were taking place. However, I feel that this book was more of a biology “fact” book instead of a traditional histography one. I still gained a new understanding and appreciation from his book. The effects of Columbus’s voyage to the new world paved way for new biological changes.