Sam White’s brand new book A Cold Welcome: The Little Ice Age and Europe’s Encounter with North America (Harvard University Press, 2017) turns the tales we learned in grade school about early European colonization of North America upside-down. In the last decades of the 16th and first decades of the 17th century, three empires—Spain, France and England—each sought to establish new colonial projects on the continent of North America. They had the misfortune to embark on these projects at the most severe point of a global climatic shift called the Little Ice Age, whose harsh winters, droughts and storms seemed to plague the unready Europeans at every turn. From Florida to Maine, North Carolina to New Mexico, climate and weather-related difficulties challenged European colonists in a multitude of ways, and White explains how even the nominally successful colony projects, like Jamestown, were lucky near-misses whose success was by no means inevitable. This is a totally new look at the early history of Europeans in North America, which holds significant lessons for coping with and thinking about our modern problems of anthropogenic climate change.
Sam White is associate professor of history at Ohio State University. An expert on climate and environmental history in the early modern period, he is also the author of the acclaimed book The Climate of Rebellion in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and co-founder of the Climate History Network, a resource for historians and other professionals studying climate history and climate change.
Sean Munger is an author, historian, teacher and podcaster. He also has his own historical podcast, Second Decade.
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