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180 European History Quarterly 44(1)

the most recent economic crisis only Latvia requested nancial assistance from
international organizations, not all three states as he writes (175).
Purs is highly critical of the native authoritarian regimes of the 1930s, which he
claims desired to create a totalitarian state (47) (though were incapable of it),
and maintains that state intervention in the economy was so great that All that
remained to occupying powers [Soviets and Nazis] was to take the helm and accel-
erate the course while changing who would benet (125). This is one of the few
topics on which Purs oers a truly radical new reading (as advertised). Though
this point is clearly exaggerated, on the whole, Purs grasp of recent Baltic history is
solid and impressive and his interpretation of it is sound and convincing.
The book ends on a pessimistic note with the grievous eects of the nancial
crisis, the current wave of massive emigration and the polarization of society along
ethnic lines amplied by the February 2012 language referendum in Latvia. Purs
concludes that common Baltic identity depends on the future success or failure of
the three individual states: if they are successful in meeting challenges, the common
Baltic identity will fade, but if shared unhappy experiences (183) dominate, then
they will continue to be viewed as one unit by the outside world.
In sum, Purs has written a lucid and stimulating account of recent Baltic history
with an emphasis on identity which can be warmly recommended for students,
travellers, businessmen, and indeed anyone interested in understanding this neg-
lected corner of Europe.

Gabriela Ramos, Death and Conversion in the Andes, Lima and Cuzco, 15321670, University of
Notre Dame Press: Notre Dame, IN, 2010; 356 pp., 3 maps; 9780268040284, $39.00 (pbk)

Reviewed by: Alex Kerner, University of Haifa, Israel

In 1553, back in Seville and after spending almost twenty years of his life in travels
to the New World, Pedro Cieza de Leon embarked on setting down his impressions
about the various Andean cultures he encountered. Among other things, he
described their burial rites explaining that

. . . in some parts they make holes, in others they place their dead on heights, in others
on level ground, and each nation seeks some new way of making tombs . . . These
Indians, then, have various ways of constructing their tombs . . . Many of these cere-
monies are now given up, because God no longer permits it . . . they are learning that
it suces to inter the bodies . . . as Christians are interred . . . (Pedro de Cieza de
Leon, The Travels of Pedro de Cieza de Leon, AD 153250, Cambridge 2010 [1553],
pp. 225, 229)

These remarks by Pedro Cieza de Leon (15201554) encapsulate Gabriela Ramoss

books subject matter. Death and the care for the bodies of the dead became a

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Book Reviews 181

signicant tool for the colonization and evangelization processes of the Andeans in
sixteenth-century Peru. Ramoss work proves, yet again, the important role body
language and bodily matters played on the rst stages of contact between
Spaniards and Andeans. Lacking a common language and any ecient means of
communications, writes Stephen Greenblatt, Europeans focused their attention on
expressive details of physical existence in order to grasp the local cultures they met.
Ramos takes this postulate a step further, by comprising in the subtle albeit com-
plex web of alternative ways of communication between the two meeting cultures,
those who already ceased to have a physical existence.
Given the importance the Andeans attached to the cult of their dead ancestors,
the Spaniards were quick to understand that in order to accelerate and optimize the
process of evangelization and colonization, a special eort should be invested in
making the Andeans adopt Christian customs and traditions regarding the care of
dead relatives. A commonly accepted convention is that beneath the pretended
Christianity adopted by the Andeans, they kept their ancient belief system and
traditions, including their approach towards their dead ancestors. Ramoss
research reveals that contrary to this conventional view, the Andeans genuinely
adopted the Christian approach and saw it not only as an integral measure for
securing eternity for their dead relatives souls, but regarded it also as an important
tactic to integrate themselves into the new evolving colonial society. Conversion to
Christianity meant then, adopting burial rites and practices which stood diamet-
rically opposed to traditional habits. Ramoss research shows that the process of
colonization was accomplished not only, of course, but also by taking posses-
sion of the realm of death. In her well-researched work, Ramos tells us, as a point
of fact, that the Spaniards were not satised by controlling the Andeans while alive.
They wished, and eventually succeeded, to control them after their death too.
Death and Conversion in the Andes is more than just another approach to the
colonization and evangelization of the New World. It is also an innovative research
on the birth of Andean Catholicism, a hybrid creed, which proves the strength of
ancient beliefs on the one hand, and the adaptability of humans in this case
Andeans and Spaniards alike to changing political, religious and cultural circum-
stances, being, in Ramoss words, actors in a major cultural transformation (6).
While the history of the conversion of the Andean peoples and the birth of a
unique Andean Catholic doctrine are well known and were thoroughly researched
(and Ramos extensively reviews the existing research on these topics), this books
main contribution is the careful and thorough research of archival (wills) and
archeological (burial sites) sources in Lima and in Cuzco. Ramos points to the
nuances in the process of colonizing the realm of death in both cities due the
dierent ethnic composition of their respective populations. Nevertheless, in
both places, her ndings demonstrate the important role played by death, burial
rites and places of burial as dening the realm of the sacred, questions of the
destiny of the soul in the colonizing process, and the way these issues were

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182 European History Quarterly 44(1)

exploited by the Catholic missionaries in order to promote the evangelization of the

A good example is the analysis of death at the stake. Death by re was con-
sidered rather an act of cruelty than an act of justice by the local population. The
destruction of the body meant the destruction of the soul as well. Understanding
this attitude, the missionaries realized that if their work was about saving souls,
death by re should be abandoned as a method of administering justice. The
importance attached by the Andeans to the preservation of the bodies of the
dead was taken into account when transforming the traditional burial and mourn-
ing rites into an acceptable set of customs compatible with Catholic doctrine. As in
other aspects of evangelization, exibility and thoughtfulness were required and
they indeed helped quicken the assimilation of Christian principles by the Andeans.
Ramoss book adds an important layer to the manifold aspects of the encounter
between victors and vanquished. It demonstrates, once more, that what may look
like a complete success for Christianity was not merely a result of coercion, but
rather the result of adoption and adaptation by both sides, with a hybrid religious
doctrine as the outcome.

Jehuda Reinharz and Yaacov Shavit, Glorious, Accursed Europe: An Essay on Jewish Ambivalence,
Brandeis University Press: Waltham, MA, 2010; 301 pp.; 9781584658436, $39.95 (hbk)

Reviewed by: Sean Martin, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Writing in Glorious, Accursed Europe, the historians Jehuda Reinharz and Yaacov
Shavit describe the dierences between the Ostjuden (Eastern Jews) and German
Jews. They quote a letter from the cultural Zionist leader Ahad Haam to the
historian and activist Simon Dubnow. Ahad Haam wrote, we can speak no
longer of a single Jewish people, but rather of Jewish peoples (62). In this elegantly
written work, Reinharz and Shavit present the challenges Jews faced in the modern
period and explain how the Jewish elite came to identify not only with the peoples
of the nations among whom they lived the English, French, Germans, Poles and
Russians, among others but with the idea of Europe itself. Ahad Haams remark
about the dierentiation within the Jewish community highlights a feature of
Jewish history that is at once both compelling and inexplicable: How did Jews
maintain an identity as Jews, across borders of all kinds, while adapting to remark-
ably dierent political, economic and social circumstances? Reinharz and Shavit
are interested in a slightly dierent question: How did Jews develop such a strong
association with an entire region, with the continent of Europe, a region Jews came
to see, as they discuss in great detail, as both glorious and accursed?
Reinharz and Shavit have written an engaging account of the views of leading
Jewish writers and political gures, illustrating how and why these leaders some-
times described Europe as the place where Jews could full their deepest aspirations
or, alternatively, as poison. The authors argue convincingly that the Jews

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