1491 is a groundbreaking history study that radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans in 1492.
Traditionally, Americans learned in school that the ancestors of the people who inhabited the Western Hemisphere at the time of Columbus's landing had crossed the Bering Strait twelve thousand years ago; existed mainly in small, nomadic bands; and lived so lightly on the land that the Americas was, for all practical purposes, still a vast wilderness.
But as Charles C. Mann now makes clear, archaeologists and anthropologists have spent the last thirty years proving these and many other long-held assumptions wrong.
In a book that startles and persuades, Charles C. Mann reveals how a new generation of researchers equipped with novel scientific techniques came to previously unheard-of conclusions. Among them: In 1491 there were probably more people living in the Americas than in Europe. Certain cities-such as Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital-were far greater in population than any contemporary European city. Furthermore, Tenochtitlan, unlike any capital in Europe at that time, had running water, beautiful botanical gardens, and immaculately clean streets. The earliest cities in the Western Hemisphere were thriving before the Egyptians built the great pyramids.
Pre-Columbian Indians in Mexico developed corn by a breeding process so sophisticated that the journal Science recently described it as "man's first, and perhaps the greatest, feat of genetic engineering. Amazonian Indians learned how to farm the rain forest without destroying it-a process scientists are studying today in the hope of regaining this lost knowledge. Native Americans transformed their land so completely that Europeans arrived in a hemisphere already massively landscaped by human beings.
The term Pre-Columbian is used to refer to the cultures of the New World in the era before significant European influence. While technically referring to the era before Christopher Columbus, in practice the term usually includes indigenous cultures as they continued to develop until they were conquered or significantly influenced by Europeans, even if this happened decades or even centuries after Columbus first landed in 1492.
Christopher Columbus was an explorer and trader, who crossed the Atlantic Ocean and reached the Americas on October 12, 1492. History places great significance on his landing in America in 1492, with the entire period of the history of the Americas before this date usually known as Pre-Columbian, and the anniversary of this event, Columbus Day, being celebrated in many parts of America. Although there is evidence of Pre-Columbian trans-Atlantic Ocean European contact, Columbus is commonly credited as the first European to see the Americas because of the profound impact his contact wrought on history. The voyage of Columbus marked the beginning of European exploration and colonization of the Americas.
Charles C. Mann sheds clarifying light on the methods used to arrive at these new visions of the pre-Columbian Americas and how they have affected our understanding of our history and our thinking about the environment. This book of Charles C. Mann is an exciting and learned account of scientific inquiry and revelation.
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann
Charles C. Mann
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Why Billington Survived
The Friendly Indian
On March 22, 1621, an official Native American delegation walked through what is now southern New England to negotiate with a group of foreigners who had taken over a recently deserted Indian settlement. At the head of the party was an uneasy triumvirate: Massasoit, the sachem (political-military leader) of the Wampanoag confederation, a loose coalition of several dozen villages that controlled most of what is now southeastern Massachusetts; Samoset, sachem of an allied group to the north; and Tisquantum, a distrusted captive, whom Massasoit had reluctantly brought along as an interpreter.
Massasoit was an adroit politician, but the dilemma he faced would have tested Machiavelli. About five years before, most of his subjects had fallen before a terrible calamity. Whole villages had been depopulated—indeed, the foreigners ahead now occupied one of the empty sites. It was all he could do to hold together the remnants of his people. Adding to his problems, the disaster had not touched the Wampanoag’s longtime enemies, the Narragansett alliance to the west. Soon, Massasoit feared, they would take advantage of the Wampanoag’s weakness and overrun them.
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Desperate threats require desperate countermeasures. In a gamble, Massasoit intended to abandon, even reverse, a long-standing policy. Europeans had been visiting New England for at least a century. Shorter than the natives, oddly dressed, and often unbearably dirty, the pallid foreigners had peculiar blue eyes that peeped out of the masks of bristly, animal-like hair that encased their faces. They were irritatingly garrulous, prone to fits of chicanery, and often surprisingly incompetent at what seemed to Indians like basic tasks. But they also made useful and beautiful goods—copper kettles, glittering colored glass, and steel knives and hatchets—unlike anything else in New England. Moreover, they would exchange these valuable items for cheap furs of the sort used by Indians as blankets. It was like happening upon a dingy kiosk that would swap fancy electronic goods for customers’ used socks—almost anyone would be willing to overlook the shopkeeper’s peculiarities.
Over time, the Wampanoag, like other native societies in coastal New England, had learned how to manage the European presence. They encouraged the exchange of goods, but would only allow their visitors to stay ashore for brief, carefully controlled excursions. Those who overstayed their welcome were forcefully reminded of the limited duration of Indian hospitality. At the same time, the Wampanoag fended off Indians from the interior, preventing them from trading directly with the foreigners. In this way the shoreline groups put themselves in the position of classic middlemen, overseeing both European access to Indian products and Indian access to European products. Now Massasoit was visiting a group of British with the intent of changing the rules. He would permit the newcomers to stay for an unlimited time—provided that they formally allied with the Wampanoag against the Narragansett.
Tisquantum, the interpreter, had shown up alone at Massasoit’s home a year and a half before. He spoke fluent English, because he had lived for several years in Britain. But Massasoit didn’t trust him. He seems to have been in Massasoit’s eyes a man without anchor, out for himself. In a conflict, Tisquantum might even side with the foreigners. Massasoit had kept Tisquantum in a kind of captivity since his arrival, monitoring his actions closely. And he refused to use him to negotiate with the colonists until he had another, independent means of communication with them.
That March Samoset—the third member of the triumvirate—appeared, having hitched a ride from his home in Maine on an English ship that was plying the coast. Not known is whether his arrival was due to chance or if Massasoit had asked him to come down because he had picked up a few English phrases by trading with the British. In any case, Massasoit first had sent Samoset, rather than Tisquantum, to the foreigners.
Samoset had walked unaccompanied and unarmed into the circle of rude huts in which the British were living on March 17, 1621. The colonists saw a robust, erect-postured man wearing only a loincloth; his straight black hair was shaved in front but flowed down his shoulders behind. To their further amazement, this almost naked man greeted them in broken but understandable English. He left the next morning with a few presents. A day later he came back, accompanied by five “tall proper men”—the phrase is the colonist Edward Winslow’s—with three-inch black stripes painted down the middle of their faces. The two sides talked inconclusively, each warily checking out the other, for a few hours. Five days later, on the 22nd, Samoset showed up again at the foreigners’ ramshackle base, this time with Tisquantum. Meanwhile Massasoit and the rest of the Indian company waited out of sight.
Samoset and Tisquantum spoke with the colonists for about an hour. Perhaps they then gave a signal. Or perhaps Massasoit was simply following a schedule. In any case, he and the rest of the Indian party appeared without warning at the crest of a hill on the south bank of the creek that ran through Patuxet. Alarmed by Massasoit’s sudden entrance, the settlers withdrew to the hill on the opposite bank, where they had emplaced their few cannons behind a half-finished stockade. A standoff ensued.
Finally Winslow exhibited the decisiveness that later led to his selection as colony governor. Wearing a full suit of armor and carrying a sword, he waded through the stream and offered himself as a hostage. Tisquantum, who walked with him, served as interpreter. Massasoit’s brother took charge of Winslow and then Massasoit crossed the water himself followed by Tisquantum and twenty of Massasoit’s men, all ostentatiously unarmed. The colonists took the sachem to an unfinished house and gave him some cushions to recline on. Both sides shared some of the foreigners’ homemade moonshine, then settled down to talk, Tisquantum translating.
To the colonists, Massasoit could be distinguished from his subjects more by manner than by dress or ornament. He wore the same deerskin shawls and leggings and like his fellows had covered his face with bug-repelling oil and reddish-purple dye. Around his neck hung a pouch of tobacco, a long knife, and a thick chain of the prized white shell beads called wampum. In appearance, Winslow wrote afterward, he was “a very lusty man, in his best years, an able body, grave of countenance, and spare of speech.” The Europeans, who had barely survived the previous winter, were in much worse shape. Half of the original colony now lay underground beneath wooden markers painted with death’s heads; most of the survivors were malnourished.
Their meeting was a critical moment in American history. The foreigners called their colony Plymouth; they themselves were the famous Pilgrims.* As schoolchildren learn, at that meeting the Pilgrims obtained the services of Tisquantum, usually known as “Squanto.” In the 1970s, when I attended high school, a popular history text was America: Its People and Values, by Leonard C. Wood, Ralph H. Gabriel, and Edward L. Biller. Nestled among colorful illustrations of colonial life was a succinct explanation of Tisquantum’s role:
A friendly Indian named Squanto helped the colonists. He showed them how to plant corn and how to live on the edge of the wilderness. A soldier, Captain Miles Standish, taught the Pilgrims how to defend themselves against unfriendly Indians.
My teacher explained that maize was unfamiliar to the Pilgrims and that Tisquantum had demonstrated the proper maize-planting technique—sticking the seed in little heaps of dirt, accompanied by beans and squash that would later twine themselves up the tall stalks. And he told the Pilgrims to fertilize the soil by burying fish alongside the maize seeds, a traditional native technique for producing a bountiful harvest. Following this advice, my teacher said, the colonists grew so much maize that it became the centerpiece of the first Thanksgiving. In our slipshod fashion, we students took notes.
The story in America: Its People and Values isn’t wrong, so far as it goes. But the impression it gives is entirely misleading.
Tisquantum was critical to the colony’s survival, contemporary scholars agree. He moved to Plymouth after the meeting and spent the rest of his life there. Just as my teacher said, Tisquantum told the colonists to bury several small fish in each maize hill, a procedure followed by European settlers for the next two centuries. Squanto’s teachings, Winslow concluded, led to “a good increase of Indian corn”—the difference between success and starvation.
Winslow didn’t know that fish fertilizer may not have been an age-old Indian custom, but a recent invention—if it was an Indian practice at all. So little evidence has emerged of Indians fertilizing with fish that some archaeologists believe that Tisquantum actually picked up the idea from European farmers. The notion is not as ridiculous as it may seem. Tisquantum had learned English because British sailors had kidnapped him seven years before. To return to the Americas, he in effect had to escape twice—once from Spain, where his captors initially sold him into slavery, and once from England, to which he was smuggled from Spain, and where he served as a kind of living conversation piece at a rich man’s house. In his travels, Tisquantum stayed in places where Europeans used fish as fertilizer, a practice on the Continent since medieval times.
Skipping over the complex course of Tisquantum’s life is understandable in a textbook with limited space. But the omission is symptomatic of the complete failure to consider Indian motives, or even that Indians might have motives. The alliance Massasoit negotiated with Plymouth was successful from the Wampanoag perspective, for it helped to hold off the Narragansett. But it was a disaster from the point of view of New England Indian society as a whole, for the alliance ensured the survival of Plymouth colony, which spearheaded the great wave of British immigration to New England. All of this was absent not only from my high school textbooks, but from the academic accounts they were based on.
This variant of Holmberg’s Mistake dates back to the Pilgrims themselves, who ascribed the lack of effective native resistance to the will of God. “Divine providence,” the colonist Daniel Gookin wrote, favored “the quiet and peaceable settlement of the English.” Later writers tended to attribute European success not to European deities but to European technology. In a contest where only one side had rifles and cannons, historians said, the other side’s motives were irrelevant. By the end of the nineteenth century, the Indians of the Northeast were thought of as rapidly fading background details in the saga of the rise of the United States—“marginal people who were losers in the end,” as James Axtell of the College of William and Mary dryly put it in an interview. Vietnam War–era denunciations of the Pilgrims as imperialist or racist simply replicated the error in a new form. Whether the cause was the Pilgrim God, Pilgrim guns, or Pilgrim greed, native losses were foreordained; Indians could not have stopped colonization, in this view, and they hardly tried.
Beginning in the 1970s, Axtell, Neal Salisbury, Francis Jennings, and other historians grew dissatisfied with this view. “Indians were seen as trivial, ineffectual patsies,” Salisbury, a historian at Smith College, told me. “But that assumption—a whole continent of patsies—simply didn’t make sense.” These researchers tried to peer through the colonial records to the Indian lives beneath. Their work fed a tsunami of inquiry into the interactions between natives and newcomers in the era when they faced each other as relative equals. “No other field in American history has grown as fast,” marveled Joyce Chaplin, a Harvard historian, in 2003.
The fall of Indian societies had everything to do with the natives themselves, researchers argue, rather than being religiously or technologically determined. (Here the claim is not that indigenous cultures should be blamed for their own demise but that they helped to determine their own fates.) “When you look at the historical record, it’s clear that Indians were trying to control their own destinies,” Salisbury said. “And often enough they succeeded”—only to learn, as all peoples do, that the consequences were not what they expected.
This chapter and the next will explore how two different Indian societies, the Wampanoag and the Inka, reacted to the incursions from across the sea. It may seem odd that a book about Indian life before contact should devote space to the period after contact, but there are reasons for it. First, colonial descriptions of Native Americans are among the few glimpses we have of Indians whose lives were not shaped by the presence of Europe. The accounts of the initial encounters between Indians and Europeans are windows into the past, even if the glass is smeared and distorted by the chroniclers’ prejudices and misapprehensions.
Second, although the stories of early contact—the Wampanoag with the British, the Inka with the Spanish—are as dissimilar as their protagonists, many archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians have recently come to believe that they have deep commonalities. And the tales of other Indians’ encounters with the strangers were alike in the same way. From these shared features, researchers have constructed what might be thought of as a master narrative of the meeting of Europe and America. Although it remains surprisingly little known outside specialist circles, this master narrative illuminates the origins of every nation in the Americas today. More than that, the effort to understand events after Columbus shed unexpected light on critical aspects of life before Columbus. Indeed, the master narrative led to such surprising conclusions about Native American societies before the arrival of Europeans that it stirred up an intellectual firestorm.
Coming of Age in the Dawnland
Consider Tisquantum, the “friendly Indian” of the textbook. More than likely Tisquantum was not the name he was given at birth.
30 March 2013, 15:44
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus [Audiobook] by Charles C Mann
HighBridge Audio | 2005 | ISBN: 1565119789 | MP3@64 kbps | 11 hrs 16 mins | 310.16MB
Based on the latest scientific findings, this breakthrough book argues that most of what we thought we knew about the Americas before Columbus was wrong.
In the last 20 years, archaeologists and anthropologists equipped with new scientific techniques have made far-reaching discoveries about the Americas. For example, Indians did not cross the Bering Strait 12,000 years ago, as most of us learned in school. They were already here. Their numbers were vast, not few. And instead of living lightly on the land, they managed it beautifully and left behind an enormous ecological legacy.
In this riveting, accessible work of science, Charles Mann takes us on an enthralling journey of scientific exploration. We learn that the Indian development of modern corn was one of the most complex feats of genetic engineering ever performed. That the Great Plains are a third smaller today than they were in 1700 because the Indians who maintained them by burning died. And that the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact.
Compelling and eye-opening, this book has the potential to vastly alter our understanding of our history and change the course of today�s environmental disputes.
New research has emerged revealing that Indians had roamed & utilized the great lands of the Americas long before any European ship landed on its coast in 1491. Therefore, a conflict lies in debates about whether or not Native Americans possessed a complex history before the arrival of Europeans. Like the author of 1491: New Revelations of The Americas Before Columbus Charles C. Mann, Archeologists and Historians have been working diligently to find a resolution to this conflict. As a result, it is clear that Indians did posses some form of a history during the Pre-Columbian era because of accounts of Indian politics, beliefs, & agriculture. Like found in Europe, political structures were evident in many Indian societies. In order to operate such a great empire, like the Inka Empire, a political system is required. This is evident as Mann states, “In 1491 The Inka ruled the greatest empire on earth. Bigger than Ming Dynasty China… Ivan the Great’s expanding Russia… Songhay in the Sahel or powerful Great Zimbabwe… Ottoman Empire… The Triple alliance… bigger than any European state.”(74) Also similar to other forms of government, corruption was present in Inka politics. For instance, an old Inka tale essentially states that after a chaotic war the presiding Inka murdered one of his sons so that the other could become Inka.
Therefore, because of sometimes bias European and Indigenous accounts it is evident that political systems were evident in the Americas before 1491. Another implication that Native Americans were more than space takers can be found in their cultivation of the land. Historians and others have often shared the common belief that when Europeans arrived in the “New Land”, they were encountering a pure and nourished gift from God. In contrast, newly found evidence, as explained in the book 1491, suggests that Native Americans exercised and maintained the land just as, or even better than, that of the Europeans. According to Mann, Native American groups such as the Mayans of Mesoamerica, The Inca of Peru, & the eastern tribes of North America have altered American land in a plethora of ways. One of the major ways that Native Americans maintained American land was by starting forest fires. These forest fires helped re-nourish the land, spark a new season of growth, and create a food supply for themselves and animals. Native Americans also exercised American land by farming many unique crops, such as maize and squash, during the Neolithic Revolution.
Native American action’s in using American soil as a tool to build civilizations serves as a key factor in proving that they did create complex societies. Therefore a form of history was present in the Americas before the arrival of Europeans in the year 1491. In addition, Native American ideas, religions, and philosophies provide an unexpected aspect into Pre-Columbian complex cultures. A common factor in all complex civilizations is the possession of beliefs. This is true because humans are unable to function without a sense of purpose. For example, one of the many beliefs debated in Native American cultures was the idea of life after death. In the book, Mann spotlights a poem written for a Mesoamerican founding figure that attempts to answer the question, “What happens when we die?” Lines in the poem such as, “Like a painting, we will be erased” (138) further answer that puzzling question. Also, evidence of Pre-Columbian art, such as mask and totem poles, are another example of advancements in Native American ideas.
Their use of colors and many symbols have aided historians as they piece together the aspects of Native American life. Because of Native American art and their ability to think about ideas outside of their needs for survival it is obvious that a form of history was possessed. Although disputed, it is evident that Native Americans did have a history because of factors such as government, land cultivation, and advanced thinking. This is significant because it disproves many previous beliefs about Native Americans during the Pre-Columbian era. Because of common misconceptions like “Holmberg’s Mistake”, details such as this have unfortunately been ignored until recent years. This new found information provides a new meaning to the term “American History” and doesn’t solely focus on the ambitions of Europeans.
For a plethora of years historians and archeologist have believed that Native Americans were simply naive space takers who resided in the sought after lands of The Americas. This claim has recently caused a significant amount of conflict as new ideas and historical facts have arisen. These new ideas and facts have tried to derail historian’s common claim by investigating the history of Native Americans before the arrival of Europeans around the year 1491. In the book, “1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus”, Charles C. Mann highlight this ongoing debate. Because Native Americans utilized little of their resources, had no concrete beliefs, and could not maintain their societies it is evident that Native Americans did not posses any form of significant history. Native Americans did not occupy the mental capacity to utilize the abundance of resources that the great lands of the Americas offered them before the arrival of Europeans. For instance, one of the many ways archeologist and historians have justified their new beliefs is through the discovery of great mounds and other “manmade” physical features. However this idea cannot be true because in actuality, these “manmade” features are simply natural flood plain deposits that Native Americans altered through everyday wear and tear.
In addition, Mann analyzes the puzzlement of historians when it was revealed that Native Americans utilized the wheel for children’s toys but never thought about enlarging it for efficient human use. Also, Mann discusses Holmberg’s view that, “Crouched over meager campfires during the wet, buggy nights, the Siriono were living exemplars of primitive humankind-the “quintessence” of “man in the raw state of nature.”(pg. 9) This statement once again proves the incompetence of America’s indigenous people. Thus, Native Americans did not harbor any history because of they were unable to exercise their resources in an advanced manner. Another unfortunate factor of Native Americans that was outlined by Holmberg was their lack of beliefs. Without a set of concrete beliefs there is not a way to spread ideas and bring people together under a common goal. Because of this it would have been difficult for indigenous peoples to acquire a history. Evidence of this conflict can be found as Mann stated “The Siriono, Holmberg reported… [Had] almost no religion”.
This shortage of important morals caused many Native Americans to gravitate towards anything that would ensure their survival. For example, when Europeans did arrive Native Americans exercised little opposition to conversion when introduced to Christianity by Europeans. Since Native American’s only goal was to survive, there was little to be done in forming a functional belief system. For that reason it would have been virtually impossible for Native Americans shape an indicative history. Furthermore, out of the millions of indigenous people that populated the vast land of the Americas before 1491, only few of their civilizations thrived. A history cannot exist if there isn’t a civilization to record. An example of the disintegration of Native American societies can be found in accounts of the Mayan Empire. Because of their lack of advancements the Maya were easily defeated by local disagreements. Not to mention, Mann states, “By about 900 A.D. both Mutal and Kaan stood almost empty, along with dozens of other Maya cities. And soon even the few people who still lived there had forgotten their imperial glories.”(pg. 280) Mann’s statement proves that when a civilization plummets, so does their history.
For that reason and others it is apparent that it would be impossible for Native Americans to posses any real history. Although disputed, it has become crystal clear that Native Americans did not have a significant history because of factors such as their inability to advance mentally and culturally, their lack of theorem, and their inability to sustain a complex society. This is important because it further proves numerous previous beliefs about the state of Native Americans during the Pre-Columbian era. Because of the countless research by historians like Holmberg, details such as this have been taught to most Americans today. Moreover, this significant information provides immigrated Americans with a sense of pride as they can be credited to advancing the Americas into what they have become during the modern era. Because of Native Americans lack of historical presence, it is right for American History to be mainly focused on the ambitions of the Europeans that altered America’s great land.
Mann, Charles C. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus. New York: Knopf, 2005.Print.
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In this groundbreaking work of science, history, and archaeology, Charles C. Mann radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492.
Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian IndiansMore In this groundbreaking work of science, history, and archaeology, Charles C. Mann radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492.
Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized breeding process that it has been called man’s first feat of genetic engineering. Indeed, Indians were not living lightly on the land but were landscaping and manipulating their world in ways that we are only now beginning to understand. Challenging and surprising, this a transformative new look at a rich and fascinating world we only thought we knew. LessGet a copy Friends’ Reviews
To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up .Community Reviews
Brendan rated it it was ok
almost 3 years ago
The survey of current thinking on the population of the americas via that Beringia land bridge and the subsequent summary of the evolutions of early american society is interesting.
But the repeated comparisons between american society and eurasian society are really fraug. Read full review
Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing
almost 3 years ago
This was like a coloring book of pre-Pilgrim North America for me in that it filled in a lot of unanswered questions and brilliantly illuminated some areas of my knowledge that were mere outlines. It stays within the lines and makes my early attempts at coloring in the pa. Read full review
Douglas Hunter rated it really liked it
almost 7 years ago
Recommends it for: readers of history, ethnohistory, First Nations history
As someone who writes professionally in this area (unabashed plug: watch for God's Mercies, Doubleday Canada, in October 07) I have high praise for this title, a long-overdue assessment of native culture and civilization before (and at) contact with Europeans. I'm still r. Read full review
Jason rated it really liked it
almost 3 years ago
Recommends it for: everyone
Very well written, a good mixture of factual evidence and narrative. The main take home point here should be known to everyone, especially Americans. There is a reason why there was a period of 128 years between Colombus' landing and a permanent European settlement in Nor. Read full review
Ken-ichi rated it liked it
over 4 years ago
In brief: I felt this was an adequate, often fascinating summary of human habitation of the Americas prior to the arrival of Europeans as understood by present-day historians and scientists. I was happy to see that Mann highlighted controversial areas without simply adopt. Read full review
Hana rated it it was ok
over 1 year ago
See updated alternative reading recommendations below.
Well, I finally finished it. There were some interesting factoids, such as the theory that much of the Amazon rainforest was planted by humans, but even then the data were not marshaled in a convincing, coherent fashio. Read full review
Tripp rated it it was amazing
over 8 years ago
Recommends it for: Non-specialists
Author Charles Mann's purpose is to debunk three commonly held ideas about the Americas before Columbus: that the continents were sparsely populated, that the social and technical development was limited and that the locals left the environment untouched.
Felicia rated it it was amazing
almost 5 years ago
Fascinating exploration of what we know of the "New World" before Columbus arrived. I knew pretty much nothing about the Incas, the Mayans, the Aztecs, and all the other societies that actually were possibly BIGGER than Europe in 1492, and dwarfed it in centuries before. Read full review
Bruce rated it it was amazing
almost 8 years ago
Let me start by noting that Mann is a journalist, rather than a historian or cultural anthropologist. This results in a work that is extremely accessible to the non specialist reader and lacking in jargon.
So much of our notions of what North America was like before Europ. Read full review
Stefan rated it did not like it
almost 3 years ago
This book could be good. Unfortunately the author seems determined in every part of his "research" to interject his own opinion without duly backing it up. I stopped reading it somewhere around page 100, where the author makes the comparison between ritual human sacrifice. Read full reviewOther Books by this Author
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Paperback. 2nd Edition. 541 pages
Published October 10th 2006 by Vintage (first published 2005
ISBN 1400032059 (ISBN13: 9781400032051 ) Edition Language English Literary Awards Julia Ward Howe PrizeAbout this Author
Charles C. Mann is a correspondent for Science and The Atlantic Monthly. and has cowritten four previous books including Noah’s Choice: The Future of Endangered Species and The Second Creation . A three-time National Magazine Award finalist, he has won awards from the American Bar Association, the Margaret Sanger Foundation, the American Institute of Physics, and the Alfred P. Sloan.Genres Quotes
I kept waiting for the book to appear. The wait grew more frustrating when my son entered school and was taught the same things I had been taught, beliefs I knew had long been sharply questioned. Since nobody else appeared to be writing the book, I finally decided to try it myself. Besides, I was curious to learn more. The book you are holding is the result.
On Columbus’s later voyages, his crew happily accepted godhood—until the Taino began empirically testing their divinity by forcing their heads underwater for long periods to see if the Spanish were, as gods should be, immortal.
Governor Bradford is said to have attributed the plague to “the good hand of God,” which “favored our beginnings” by “sweeping away great multitudes of the natives … that he might make room for us.
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