First Encounters
Native Voices on the Coming of the Europeans
by Howard B. Leavitt, Editor
June 2010, 266pp, 7x10
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-35131-0
$103, £80, 90€, A142
eBook Available: 978-0-313-35132-7
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

History is written by the winners. Diaz and de Gama … Columbus and de León … Pizarro and Cortés. Their exploits and those of others who planted the flag of European conquest around the world are well recorded. But what about the people they found on arrival, the native populations soon to endure conquest, enslavement, and disease from those who laid claim to their homeland?

A collection comprising a wide variety of accounts of native peoples describing their initial encounters with European explorers, conquerors, and settlers.

This extraordinary volume gathers together an astonishing array of voices of those so often overlooked by history. First Encounters: Native Voices on the Coming of the Europeans reaches back to add important overlooked viewpoints to our understanding of history, gathering together accounts describing the initial experiences of indigenous peoples around the world with European explorers, missionaries, traders, soldiers, and settlers. It is the first such volume with a truly global perspective.

First Encounters brings together 42 authentic, first-person accounts, organized geographically in sections on Africa, North America, South America, greater Australia, and Asia. Selections, each with editor’s notes, provide vivid, detailed accounts of the culture clashes that defined an era. From the Opium Wars to the Indian Wars, from the Aztecs who thought the white intruders were gods to the Japanese who thought them barbarians, readers will encounter a stunning array of voices from the other side of history.


  • Includes 42 accounts by native peoples describing encounters with European settlers and conquerors
  • Presents chronologies of important events in the era of European conquest
  • Offers a bibliography of annotated references to print and online sources
Howard B. Leavitt, PhD, is a retired academic with a doctorate from Columbia University. His latest appointments were at Boston University as well as at international development organizations in Washington D.C. His published works include Issues and Problems in Teacher Education: An International Handbook and Communications Technology for Development.


"In this landmark anthology of critical essays and first-person narratives, Leavitt (Issues and Problems in Teacher Education) amplifies the often silenced voices of indigenous cultures around the globe, thus balancing the standard historical accounts of conquering forces and cultural majorities. The book is divided into five parts, covering various regions in Africa, North America, South America, Australia, and Asia. Each essay opens with editor’s notes, offering details about the essay author and the original publication context. Every geographic segment closes with a first encounter chronology. An absolutely essential volume for world literature, history, and cultural studies collections." —Library Journal, Starred Review, November 1, 2010

"Although all of the accounts have been previously published, some are buried in earlier volumes or are otherwise difficult to obtain. Leavitt has provided a valuable service by bringing them together in a single, well-organized anthology...Recommended."—Choice, April 1, 2011
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