Ruben Martinez and When Worlds Collide

by Chad Campbell, senior producer
NOTE: This blog post is from 2010
Go to this address to watch the entire film online.

Ruben Martinez is a successful author, a professor of literature and writing at Loyola Marymount University and the host of a new documentary premiering tonight on PBS. It’s called When Worlds Collide: The Untold Story of the Americas After Contact and it focuses on what the Spanish Conquistadors found in the “New World” and on how civilizations on both sides of the Atlantic were changed. The film makes the argument that the average American in 1490 was healthier and better off than the average European. The natives of North and South America enjoyed a much better climate and consumed a far more varied diet which included potatoes, chocolate, tomatoes and corn - all “discovered” on this side of the ocean. We also learn that Americans were mass producing red dye from an insect that lived on a local cactus. This knowledge was revolutionary to Europe’s fashion trends, textile manufacturing and to artists like Rembrandt who used the dye in his painting “The Jewish Bride.” 


Martinez was a guest on our show several years ago to discuss immigration and in fact has written a trilogy of books on the subject: The Other SideCrossing Over and The New Americans.


Click here to read Ruben Martinez’s essay on his own personal colliding worlds.

Here’s a link to a timeline with notable events from the old world and the new.

Click here to learn more about historical figures featured in the documentary.

Here’s a link to purchase a DVD copy.