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Bill Thayer

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History of the Americas


[image ALT: A portrait three-quarters right, from an oil painting, of an intelligent-looking man in his thirties with tousled hair, who wears a greatcoat (barely distinguishable) and a high scarf entirely concealing his neck. It is a cropped version of the portrait of the explorer Alexander Mackenzie by Lawrence; on this site it serves as the icon for Mark S. Wade's book 'Mackenzie of Canada'.]

In two separate explorations in the last decade of the eighteenth century, Scotsman Sir Alexander Mackenzie was the first European to cross the wilds of Canada down the river now named for him, to its mouth in the Arctic Ocean; and, more importantly for the future history of Canada, the first also to cross the North American continent north of Mexico. Mark Wade's Mackenzie of Canada chronicles those explorations, with much good background on the North American fur trade, and gives details of his life before and after his Canadian period.

[ 7/27/16: 322 pages of print
presented in 22 webpages; 9 photos, 4 maps ]


[image ALT: A map of roughly the central half of the American continent, from the present S border of Canada in the north to Paraguay in the south; patterned with a checkered design alternating squares with a crenellated tower and squares with a lion rampant. The image is further explained on the text of this webpage, and serves as the icon on my site for Bourne's book, 'Spain in America'.]

Edward Gaylord Bourne's Spain in America recounts the Spanish voyages of exploration and the early colonization of America; and lays out the Spanish colonial system that at one time governed more than half of South America and a large part of North America as well.

[ 366 pages of print
presented in 26 webpages; 2 maps ]


[image ALT: A small photograph of what appears to be a sailboat. The image is further explained by a link on the webpage linked to, and serves as the icon on my site for Galdames's book, 'A History of Chile'.]

Luis Galdames' History of Chile — an English translation of the Chilean historian's Estudio de historia de Chile — is an excellent survey of 400 years of that country's history, written with love of his country and as much impartiality as he could muster: it covers the initial European discovery, exploration and conquest, then the political and military developments of course, but also the intellectual and religious currents, and, to a lesser degree, economic and cultural aspects as well.

[ 544 pages of print
presented in 33 webpages; 20 photos, 4 maps ]


[image ALT: A flag-like design, the main field of which bears a horizontal lozenge most of which is taken up by a celestial globe with a inscribed band at the equator (the flag of Brazil); to the left of this main field, a vertical band bearing three stylized castles. This design serves to represent the section of my site on the history of Brazil.]

History of Brazil includes a well-known history of Brazil — a full-length book by a 20c Brazilian author — but also in-depth accounts by a single author (a very frequently cited authority) of the Dutch exploration and colonization in the north and northeastern regions of the modern country: Bahia, Pernambuco, Maranhão, Pará.

[ 10/27/11: 414 pages of print
presented in 23 webpages ]


[image ALT: On a plain rectangular field, an engraved oval head-and‑shoulders portrait of a man in early middle age, wearing early‑19c clothing: a jacket with a rising collar, a ruffled shirt. The image serves as the icon on this site for 'The Life of Miranda' by William Spence Robertson, Jr.]

William Spence Robertson's Life of Miranda, though strictly speaking not history but biography, inevitably tells the story of Venezuela's struggle for independence.

[ 7/1/15: 603 pages of print
presented in 27 webpages; 16 photos, 5 maps, 17 engravings ]

Onsite link

Many journal articles onsite, while dealing with Latin America and the Caribbean, also relate to the United States: nearly all of them are collected in my American History Notes section.

These, however, are not:

St. Brendan's Explorations and Islands

The Dutch and Cuba, 1609‑1643.

North Carolina's Troops in South America: "The Lost Battalion".

White Settlement in Saba Island, Dutch West Indies

[ 4 journal articles: 82 pages of print ]


[image ALT: an apparently abstract pattern of three V's stacked one above the other — both arms of each V end in a trefoil, and the apex of the V is a small round button; superimposed on this design, three narrow parallel lines extending diagonally from the upper right to the lower left. It is a fairly close rendering of the device on the sleeve of the uniform of a First-Class cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point; and is used on this site to indicate the American and Military History section of the site.]

Inevitably, the bulk of this site will still be about the history of my own country, the History of the United States. My interests seem to be moving me more toward the frontier period — 17c thru 20c depending on what part of the country! — but I've tried to establish a balance, so there's Revolutionary War and Civil War material, railroad history and a book on President Wilson, a fair amount of 20c naval history, a subsite on Catholic history but also the diary of a Mormon pioneer: lots of stuff, both primary sources and secondary, and being added to at a rate of about ten books a year, not counting journal articles. You'll find a full breakdown on the linked orientation page, naturally.

[ 9/26/16: 76 books; plus other items
— 33,434 pages of print presented in 5706 webpages
with 1300 photos, 276 maps, 493 other illustrations ]


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Site updated: 26 Sep 16