The institution of “the other slavery” — the thinking behind it, the ways in which laws were passed and interpreted, how the practice of slavery itself took on many different guises — is alive today and in a world where the richest people exercise so much authority (in the form of political influence, economic power, and cultural capital) over a vast (and growing) underclass; where more and more jobs are in the service sector; where the poor are subjected to so many disproportionately onerous taxes and fines and fees. To think about the enslavement of Indians over the last 500 years can help us think about the ways in which people are enslaved today.
This book is, arguably, one of the most profound contributions to North American history published since Patricia Nelson Limerick’s “Legacy of Conquest” and Richard White’s “The Middle Ground.” But it’s not necessary to be into history to understand its power: Our world is still the world Reséndez so eloquently anatomizes.
It was not disease but enslavement that wiped out the Indians. Read the whole review, and the whole book.