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The Latin Americanist, September 2012 practice of tolerance towards the game emerged. While debates about police and legal enforcement of the game’s illegality were commonplace, a general consensus, at times explicit and at times muted, about the game’s decriminalization gained ground. Police corruption, the limits of state violence , and the expansive growth of the informal economy contributed to its tolerance and acceptance. Laws of Chance is an engaging and well-written text that sheds light on a popular Brazilian practice that goes beyond the confines of rudimentary play. For those who study the political and moral economies of games, the relationship between formal and informal economies, and petty commerce ; Chazkel has raised the intellectual stakes. Manuella Meyer University of Richmond BARTOLOMé dE LAS CASAS AND THE CONQUEST OF THE AMERICAS. By Lawrence A. Clayton. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, p. 188, $23.95. Bartolomé de Las Casas and the Conquest of the Americas, is a short, effective , and student-oriented history of the period and major issues of the Spanish presence in the New World confronted by Las Casas. The book uses the life of Las Casas as a “gateway into the history of the Conquest” (12), which works quite well. That his subject was a contemporary and near eyewitness to most of the major events of the first half-century of Spanish exploration and conquest in the Americas allows Clayton to effectively contextualize Las Casas at every turn. Much as the Spanish presence unfolded slowly, from the small, economically marginal islands of the Caribbean to the dramatic conquests of the Aztec and Incan Empires, so the life of Las Casas is traced from his relatively obscure beginnings as a merchant to his frenetic and spectacular religious career. This is an especially successful approach for discussing the development of the Dominican’s advocacy for the Indian peoples caught up in the creation of the vast new Spanish Empire. Clayton effectively narrates the slow awakening of Las Casas to the plight of the Indians, from his brief ownership of a Taino slave, to his experience with the brutality of the encomienda system on Hispaniola. The unregulated, unsupervised expansion became increasingly disturbing to the young Las Casas as more and more land and Indians were brought under Spanish control. The course of Las Casas’s ensuing public career is similarly contextualized within the larger political and ideological developments in Spain, Europe, and the world. At each encounter with the monarchy, Clayton describes the competing agendas and concerns that shaped the official governmental response to the crisis of the Indies that Las Casas was bringing to light. In doing so, this book not only highlights the difficult mission which Las Casas undertook, but also shows how impressive it was that he was able to make as much 114 Book Reviews progress as he did in the name of protecting the native peoples of Spain’s American conquests. The book is equally effective in describing the complexity of Las Casas’s thought and theology. Clayton reminds the reader that Las Casas was not simply concerned with the humane treatment of the Indians, and their evangelization; rather, the Dominican denied entirely the legitimacy of the Conquest. He did so both in terms of just war, as understood by contemporary Christian thought, as well as in the name of straightforward justice and natural law. While politically Las Casas worked to protect Indian communities from the abuses of the Conquistadors in the name of proper evangelization, in his writings Las Casas denounced the dispossession and enslavement that he witnessed unequivocally. That he regretted entirely the Spanish arrival in the New World, even if without it the Indians could never be Christians, was an important aspect of his thought. Despite these successes, Clayton’s book is less effective at appreciating the big picture of the career and writings of Las Casas. The Black Legend is necessarily referenced numerous times throughout the book, though not in a particularly useful way. This creation of Protestant propagandists from the period of course relied heavily on the writings of Las Casas to make the case for Spanish brutality. Clayton presents it alongside what he calls the White Legend, by which...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1557-203X
Print ISSN
1557-2021
Pages
pp. 114-115
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-25
Open Access
No
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