This demographic overview of North American Indian history describes in detail the holocaust that, even today, white Americans tend to dismiss as an unfortunate concomitant of Manifest Destiny. They wish to forget that, as Euro-Americans invaded North America and prospered in the New World, the numbers of native peoples declined sharply; entire tribes, often in the space of a few years, were wiped from the face of the earth.
The fires of the holocaust that consumed American Indians blazed in the fevers of newly encountered diseases, the flash of settlers' and soldiers' guns, the ravages of firewater, and the scorched-earth policies of the white invaders. Russell Thornton describes how the holocaust had as its causes disease, warfare and genocide, removal and relocation, and destruction of aboriginal ways of life.
Until recently most scholars seemed reluctant to speculate about North American Indian populations in 1492. In this book Thornton discusses in detail how many Indians there were, where they had come from, and how modern scholarship in many disciplines may enable us to make more accurate estimates of aboriginal populations.