The Dominican priest Bartolome de las Casas (1485-1566) was a prominent chronicler of the early Spanish conquest of the Americas, a ted protector of the American Indians and arguably the most significant figure in the early Spanish Empire after Christopher Columbus. Following an epiphany in 1514, Las Casas fought the Spanish control of the Indies for the rest of his life, writing vividly about the brutality of the Spanish conquistadors. Once a settler and exploiter of the American Indians, he became their defender, breaking ground for the modern human rights movement. Las Casas brought his understanding of Christian scripture to the forefront in his defense of the Indians, challenging the premise that the Indians of the New World were any less civilized or capable of practising Christianity than Europeans. Bartolome de las Casas: A Biography is the first major English-language and scholarly biography of Las Casas' life in a generation.
Lawrence A. Clayton attended Duke University (BA, 1964) and earned his MA (1969) and PhD (1972) at Tulane University in Latin American History. From 1964-1966 he served as an officer in the US Navy on the USS Donner (LSD-20), cruising both in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean with the 6th Fleet. He was on the faculty of the University of Alabama from 1972-2013, before retiring in 2013. His specialties focused on Latin American history and the history of the Christian church, and he directed the Latin American Studies Program (1980-1992), and acted as Chair of the Department of History (2000-2007) and Interim Chair (2009-2010). He also held two Senior Fulbright Lecturing Awards, one in 1983 to Costa Rica, and one in 1988 to Peru, lecturing at the University of Costa Rica and the University of Lima respectively. In 1983 he served as President of the South Eastern Council on Latin American Studies, and in 1999 held a year-long Pew Evangelical Scholars Fellowship. His publications include Alabama and the Borderlands: From Prehistory to Statehood (1985), Grace: W. R. Grace and Co., The Formative Years, 1850-1930 (1985), The Hispanic Experience in North America: Sources for Study in the United States (1992), The DeSoto Chronicles (1993, prize-winning), A History of Modern Latin America (2nd edition, 2005), Peru and the United States: The Condor and the Eagle (1999) and Bartolome de las Casas and the Conquest of the Americas (2011). Three of his books have been translated and published in Peru and Ecuador. He is presently engaged in writing a book, The Battle for Cuba: Air War over the Bay of Pigs, April 1961, and is working on the script to a new movie on the Doolittle R.