Montaigne, who wrote something about everything, had his say, too, about the Americas and Americans. The title of his essay, "Of Cannibals," is highly uncomplimentary. Yet the essay itself contains much that is favorable. It is interesting to observe how the very discovery of the new world plunged the old world into an argument about civilization; how this argument has gone on ever since, and how relatively little its terms have changed; how it always revolves around the same questions; and how, from the start, it has abounded in misconceptions. The fact that the Americans Montaigne wrote about were Indians, living in what was later to become Brazil, makes no difference. As I embark on my book about the United States of North America, those "Americans," and Montaigne, help me clarify my intent.
- From Image of America by R.L. Bruckberger