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A Cold Welcome: The Little Ice Age and Europe's Encounter with North America [Book Review]

Pluymers, Keith (2018) A Cold Welcome: The Little Ice Age and Europe's Encounter with North America [Book Review]. William and Mary Quarterly, 75 (2). pp. 391-394. ISSN 0043-5597. doi:10.5309/willmaryquar.75.2.0391.

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In a foundational 1982 article, Karen Ordahl Kupperman set forth the “puzzle of the American climate.” English propagandists, drawing heavily on classical geographies that equated temperature with latitude, promised colonists temperate climes yielding citrus, spices, silk, and mineral wealth. Instead, colonists faced harsh winters. As expectations clashed with experience, contemporary commentators often clung to their initial promises. They blamed colonists’ or Native peoples’ moral and agricultural failings and hoped that felled forests and tilled fields, which exposed the land to direct sunlight, would improve the climate and the landscape. Kupperman noted that the period of early contact coincided with colder temperatures as the result of the “little ice age,” which at the time of her writing was defined largely as a period of glacial advance and colder temperatures. But in her account the “puzzle” that confounded early colonists mostly emerged from the longer-term contrast between Europe’s maritime and North America’s continental climates, not early modern cooling. Sam White’s essential new book, A Cold Welcome, reshapes our sense of the puzzle and its pieces, arguing that the dynamic, unstable climate of the Little Ice Age hampered European attempts to adapt to unfamiliar North American environments and made the encounters between European and Native peoples more violent and deadly.

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Additional Information:© 2018 Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. Book review of: A Cold Welcome: The Little Ice Age and Europe’s Encounter with North America. By Sam White. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2017. 375 pages. Cloth.
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20181206-082622086
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Official Citation:Keith Pluymers. “The William and Mary Quarterly.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 75, no. 2, 2018, pp. 391–394. JSTOR, JSTOR,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:91532
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:06 Dec 2018 17:03
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 03:42

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