The author continues, "His views were so radical and would involve such a change of heart of the part of the hearers, that he knew he had to make these ideas palatable to the practical-minded and profit-oriented" (Vickery, 2006, p. 75). Thus, the priest understood what he was up against and attempted to sway his listeners with things that would appeal to their ideas and ideals. He was wise beyond his years, and he enjoyed everything from ridicule to censure because of it, but that did not stop him from truly believing in his cause and in the rights of his fellow human beings.
It is important to note that throughout his life, Las Casas did not lose his faith in God, even when his attempts to stop brutalization of the natives did not work. His faith did not falter, but his faith in humankind did. He joined the Dominican order after twelve years of attempting change and reform, and he continued to believe peaceful reform was what was necessary. The author continues, "This consisted of peaceful persuasion and appeal to the reason of the hearers; war was never justified" (Vickery, 2006, p. 115). The author makes it clear that the man's message stayed consistent throughout his lifetime, and that makes him larger than life in the eyes of the author, something that is very prevalent throughout this work.
Vickery's book is a detailed attempt to bring Las Casas to life for the reader, and to share the priest's strong convictions with the reader. He uses direct quotes, exhaustive research, and a scholarly writing style to achieve his goals and defend his thesis. At the heart of the book is the Spanish conquest and their desire to convert, at just about any cost, the "heathen" natives they discovered in the West Indies and Caribbean. The author notes, "Among other instructions, the monarchs specifically charged Columbus to work diligently for the conversion of the inhabitants of both the islands and mainland to the Catholic...
19). The book clearly has a pro-Catholic stance, which may take away from some of its authority on the life of Las Casas, because it may be more biased than a non-Catholic reference. However, all in all, the author does an excellent job of introducing his subject and expertise to the reader, while making Las Casas as sympathetic and heroic as possible. Las Casas was one of the first human rights activists for the New World, and as such, he comes off a hero of almost epic proportions in this book.
.The author uses extensive research, as his Notes and Bibliography section clearly indicate, and the addition of some period drawings gives the book a little more credence, somehow. It is clear the author has a great understanding of Las Casas and his reasoning, and that comes across in the book, as well. The book belongs on the bookshelf of anyone who is interested in early Spanish history, the Catholic Church, and the history of exploration and discovery, and it shows that although the conquistadors were often cruel and harsh with the Native Americans, there were at least some Spanish citizens who fought for the rights and dignities of these native people.
In conclusion, this is a fascinating look into the life of an early humanitarian and prophet, and it almost makes Las Casas come alive in the mind of the reader. Las Casas was a reformer at a time when reform was not popular, but he was a man that stood by his convictions and fought for the rights of others for most of his adult life. He also never stopped trying to influence the crown to act accordingly with the native peoples, and later with African slaves. He was a man who lived by his convictions, shared them with others, and was never afraid to speak his mind. The author ends the book with this statement, "In this he was without equal and served as an example for all who seek to reconcile humanity with God" (Vickery, 2006, p. 157). The author may be a little too close to his subject for real objectivity, but he does paint a compelling portrait of this…
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