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1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

22 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

eye opening

I felt motivated to write this review after seeing some of the other reviewers comment on very odd things. This book was eye opening for me. I couldn't put it down--which says something. And it changed the way I think about the history of the Americas and the world. ...
I felt motivated to write this review after seeing some of the other reviewers comment on very odd things. This book was eye opening for me. I couldn't put it down--which says something. And it changed the way I think about the history of the Americas and the world. Regarding the person who claims that Mann criticizes environmentalists--nothing could be further from the truth. I am an ardent conservationist and am quoting Mann in my master's thesis. He discusses some very central controversies in conservation. For the person who was so outraged by the idea that some native peoples prefer to be called Indians--actually some do. And this may be more relevant in Spanish. While indio is an insult in some countries, there are native people in Colombia who refer to themselves as indios. I wasn't sure where the rage was coming from, but Mann was not incorrect. In addition, I would have to go back to the book, but I didn't interpret his portrayal of Holmberg as insulting. I thought that Mann actually spoke quite highly of him. There is much to like in this book, and maybe the fact that it can stir up so much controversy is part of that.

posted by Anonymous on September 23, 2007

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Most Helpful Critical Review

10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

Footnotes are not displayed in text - huge problem for critical reader

I found this book to be a very interesting read - particularly from the perspective of a biologist and professional conservationist. However one thing about the Nook e-version totally ticked me off. The notes, very important references to sources for some pretty contr...
I found this book to be a very interesting read - particularly from the perspective of a biologist and professional conservationist. However one thing about the Nook e-version totally ticked me off. The notes, very important references to sources for some pretty controversial material, were NOT displayed in the text. That made it impossible to read, and as you go along, consider validity of the author's positions relative to the sources he felt supported them. There were references to some interesting Appendices made in the text, and there were asterisks linked to brief explanations included at the end of each chapter, but none of the text included reference notes. They were there, following page 410, seventy-eight pages of them, and you could link from them to the text page they were associated with, but not the line or statement there. Regardless, once at the end, to go back and try to integrate references into your thinking just doesn't work. If I were the author I'd be furious. As it is I just feel ripped off. B&A must do better than this!

posted by StreamFollower on October 30, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2007

    crashingly disappointing

    I had high hopes for Mann's interpretation especially reading this after Philbrick's Mayflower. With the exception of Part One, 90% of the book relates to South and Central America, and it almost reads as a topographical history or South America. I was 'expecting' more insight into Columbus and the North American tribes and their history, but I think people are getting caught up in the story. I found myself skipping chapters something I never do (well, there was a chapter on tortilla making).

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2005

    Mann's Mistake

    Allan Holmberg - to whom Charles Mann attributes 'Holmberg's Mistake' - never argued anything to the effect of what Mann claims in his work on Bolivia. His dissertation at Yale, published as 'Nomads of the Long Bow' by the Smithsonian, was on the effects of hunger on forest dwellers who lived in fragmented groups due to historical contingencies. That Charles Mann elected to name a chapter of his book, 1491, ¿Holmberg¿s Mistake¿ shows nothing but that Mann never read the book. Holmberg, to the extent that his work addresses historical or archaeological questions at all, argues quite transparently that the Siriono were an ¿anomaly¿ and likely a ¿remnant of an ancient population that was exterminated, absorbed, or engulfed by more civilized invaders.¿ The mistake here is all Mann¿s. I would not argue that Mann's overall argument is incorrect but it is odd that he attempts to destroy the reputation of someone who never held the ideas attributed to him. Mann's representation approaches the unethical.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2014

    AP World History Review: While other people seem to have real


    AP World History Review:

    While other people seem to have really liked this book, I did not really like it. I thought it was not very interesting and very dry to read. I got very bored reading it and just wanted the book to be over. I felt like Mann was a lot more involved in the politics about who was wrong and right than he was actually about the topic. While some of his personal stories may have been interesting, after the millionth one, I was really tired of it. His round about way of describing things confused me because first he would talk about the wrong theory, then he would describe another theory but say that they weren’t true. Some of the things he said went against other ideas and I was really confused about what to think. While I liked the stuff about the actual culture of the different civilizations, for some reason I didn’t feel he made it very interesting. I also wish that Mann wrote more about the North American societies, because he didn’t talk about those very much.
    I also felt like Mann had a very negative view towards environmentalists and people who didn’t agree about how long people had been in America, but I understand why because that was against what he was trying to say. All of his stories though bored me and I felt like he was always criticizing the people that didn’t agree with him by saying that they were stupid, which isn’t very nice. I felt like he completed his purpose well though because he provided facts and data about these civilizations and how they knew these things, although I felt like the facts were confusing because he told lots of different ideas, but never fully explained which one was correct. To me, I felt like he completed his purpose though by showing how humans are older than we thought and that Americans have been here longer and are more civilized and awesome than we thought. This wasn’t my favorite book though because Mann’s writing style bothered me though, although that in itself is very biased of me. The places where he actually described the civilizations felt a lot like a textbook and I am kinda tired of textbooks, while the rest of the book felt like an autobiography and a book about how the scientists/archaeologists/historians knew all of the facts. I do not recommend this book for other students, people with a short attention span, or people who aren’t that interested in how they know these things, but I would recommend this book for a person who really likes history or wants to become an archaeologist.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2011

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    Posted April 24, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2010

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