Customer Reviews for

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

Fascinating!

Charles Mann writes the type of book that should be read in history classes everywhere. This one takes off where 1491 left off and is equally as fascinating. The amount of material covered is enormous but never overwhelming. Topics include everything from the potato fam...
Charles Mann writes the type of book that should be read in history classes everywhere. This one takes off where 1491 left off and is equally as fascinating. The amount of material covered is enormous but never overwhelming. Topics include everything from the potato famine to tobacco farming to both sides of slavery all over the world. Mann doesn't simply tell us when things happened. He tells us how and why. 1493 is well written, easy to follow and incredibly informative.

posted by QuietFury on August 22, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

13 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

Amateur history, questionable conclusions, very winded writing

I've managed to suffer through about 100 pages or so, and I don't think I can take much more. The author is a scientific magazine writer/journalist, and it shows. This is the first "history" book I've ever read in which the author seems to revel in his "ordinary Joe" so...
I've managed to suffer through about 100 pages or so, and I don't think I can take much more. The author is a scientific magazine writer/journalist, and it shows. This is the first "history" book I've ever read in which the author seems to revel in his "ordinary Joe" source methodology. He tells of his surprise or regrets at being unable to find an answer to one of the topics via Google search. He tells of "interviewing" deceased "experts" he has known. That, coupled with his extremely questionable conclusions to several issues, makes pretty clear that Wikipedia and the like were his "primary" source material for what he claims to be "history." The book makes for a confusing read. The author seems unable to decide if he is writing non-fiction history, a novel, or a magazine piece, as there are elements of all three mishmashed together. When relating past historical events, the author inconsistently alternates between writing in the past tense and the present tense. I generally don't care for reading history in the present tense, but if you're going to do that, for Pete's sake, at least stay consistent. It can get to be very confusing as to whether he is relating one of his many "memories" of his own life, an interview, or something that happened in the Virgina colony in the Seventeenth Century. The author also has a strange habit of interjecting the word, "I," throughout what is supposed to be a history book, along with anecdotes about his garden, his life, people he's known, etc. This is not what you expect to read when you buy a history book. I have a J.D., with an undergrad in history, and have read literally thousands of history books and historical sources. I say this only to emphasize that many of his "facts" and conclusions are simply incorrect, or at best debatable or questionable. And, while I certainly do not claim to be a medical doctor, biologist or botonist by any stretch of the imagination, I have to question many of his unsupported "facts" and conclusions that have likely come from Wikipedia. This is the first time in nearly 40 years of loving and reading history that I have felt compelled to write a review. If you like folksy writing styles and "lite" history mixed with "entertainment," you may like this book. If you do, that's great, to each his own. But I would be very, very careful about ever using this book to substantiate or verify an historical fact or conclusion. The author is not an authority and relies on too many unauthoritative sources, himself.

posted by Offbase on September 27, 2011

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  • Posted August 22, 2011

    Fascinating!

    Charles Mann writes the type of book that should be read in history classes everywhere. This one takes off where 1491 left off and is equally as fascinating. The amount of material covered is enormous but never overwhelming. Topics include everything from the potato famine to tobacco farming to both sides of slavery all over the world. Mann doesn't simply tell us when things happened. He tells us how and why. 1493 is well written, easy to follow and incredibly informative.

    14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2011

    Amateur history, questionable conclusions, very winded writing

    I've managed to suffer through about 100 pages or so, and I don't think I can take much more. The author is a scientific magazine writer/journalist, and it shows. This is the first "history" book I've ever read in which the author seems to revel in his "ordinary Joe" source methodology. He tells of his surprise or regrets at being unable to find an answer to one of the topics via Google search. He tells of "interviewing" deceased "experts" he has known. That, coupled with his extremely questionable conclusions to several issues, makes pretty clear that Wikipedia and the like were his "primary" source material for what he claims to be "history." The book makes for a confusing read. The author seems unable to decide if he is writing non-fiction history, a novel, or a magazine piece, as there are elements of all three mishmashed together. When relating past historical events, the author inconsistently alternates between writing in the past tense and the present tense. I generally don't care for reading history in the present tense, but if you're going to do that, for Pete's sake, at least stay consistent. It can get to be very confusing as to whether he is relating one of his many "memories" of his own life, an interview, or something that happened in the Virgina colony in the Seventeenth Century. The author also has a strange habit of interjecting the word, "I," throughout what is supposed to be a history book, along with anecdotes about his garden, his life, people he's known, etc. This is not what you expect to read when you buy a history book. I have a J.D., with an undergrad in history, and have read literally thousands of history books and historical sources. I say this only to emphasize that many of his "facts" and conclusions are simply incorrect, or at best debatable or questionable. And, while I certainly do not claim to be a medical doctor, biologist or botonist by any stretch of the imagination, I have to question many of his unsupported "facts" and conclusions that have likely come from Wikipedia. This is the first time in nearly 40 years of loving and reading history that I have felt compelled to write a review. If you like folksy writing styles and "lite" history mixed with "entertainment," you may like this book. If you do, that's great, to each his own. But I would be very, very careful about ever using this book to substantiate or verify an historical fact or conclusion. The author is not an authority and relies on too many unauthoritative sources, himself.

    13 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 28, 2011

    Makes Great Connections

    My husband and I were floored to learn historical tidbits like some U.S. Confederates established a colony in S. America after they lost the Civil War. But the book was not well written and could have used a lot more editing. It read as though much of the text had been thrown together in a hurry. While we read the entire book we couldn't wait for it to end. The content is worth the read.

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 3, 2012

    If you love American history, you'll marry this one.

    Just finished reading "1491" so was compelled to continue the journey with "1493". Reading these books makes me realize just how totally inadequate my eduction in American history has been, at both the high school & college levels - every page amazed in the facts revealed. Mann is a journalist, which added greatly to the pleasure of the read - he writes beautifully. Reading these books put me on that hill in Darien, with 1000 years of history spread out before my wondering eyes.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2011

    Great story

    I enjoyed this book very much.

    2 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2014

    Informative and entertaining

    Really good read. Lots of new ideas to mull over about the globalization of plants, food, economies....and how far back these issues go. Author's background in magazine writing helps make these complex issues understandable. I strongly recommend this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 2, 2012

    Real-life History

    A must-read for people interested in History from a different point of view than that of school books. Real-life History. Combined with books from Howard Zinn and Eric Hobsbawm, one can have a glimpse on what probably happened on earth some time ago.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2012

    I highly recommend this book

    I found this book very interesting and it gave me a greater understanding of how the world became what it is today. It points out the accomplishments and failures of the many peoples, races, religions, nations, who formed the world as it exists today. It gave me greater insight into how deeply entrenched many of the problems are that we have to deal with today.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2011

    Very informative.

    Lots of good information, but seems to have been written in haste. Not as good as 1491 was. But worth the read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2011

    Good So Far

    I am still reading this book. It is fascinating, and so far, I've been enjoying it.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2013

    It was ok

    It was ok

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2013

    Most complete look at the effectives of the discovery of the New World

    Even better than his work "1493", Charles Mann takes a well-researched and masterfully analyzed look at the economic, demographic, and cultural impact of the accidental discovery of the Americas. Excellent read, difficult to put down or even read only once!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    everything is here

    Amazing feat of research. In depth and detailed to a fault. Liked very much but sometimes read like someone forgot to edit the raw data. Would highly recommend for anyone who is fascinated by post Columbian history. Extremely in-depth.

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  • Posted March 11, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    the lessons of history

    To learn the lessons of history, one must know it...I recommend reading Mann's 1491 before reading 1493. Both are excellent. They offer succinct summaries of current discussions in history, anthropology, and related areas. While 1491 is focused on cleaning up an out-dated sense of the Americas historically and anthropologically, 1493 focuses on how the European encounter with the Americas dramatically affected the whole world, especially as different economically important species were transported. This book puts much of the current world in better perspective including how much chattel slavery shaped the modern situation. The last chapter really brings home the impact for today and the irony in many of our perceptions and conservation efforts.

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  • Posted January 8, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Good History Book. 1493 is a good history book. I enjoyed the i

    Good History Book. 1493 is a good history book. I enjoyed the information about malaria, potatoes, and sweet potatoes the most. I learned about Casta Paintings, which I found informative. I would recommend it 1493 to selected others.

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  • Posted January 4, 2013

    Probably won't finish it.

    I am trying to read this for a book club. It seems to be an interesting history of the world with Columbus being blamed for it all. If not, Colon, I am sure someone else would have started the whole chain of events. It is always somehow unfair to lay it all on a man out of context with his world at the time. Slavery, seat belts,and child car seats come to mind. I have been reading it off and on for nearly a month and have not found much to keep me in the book. Perhaps he could do one on Rachael Spring who basically exchanged DDT use for nets against malaria. Impossible to wear a net all day and so malaria continues. DDT was doing a good job and the hullabaloo about DDT has proven to be wrong. Look what she did to cause needless deaths. Just a thought. Blacks in Africa sold their fellow black men into slavery, but that is never mentioned.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2012

    Great history

    Detailed and insightful

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2011

    Profound

    This was not the book i was hoping for when I bought it. In my ignorance I wated a wanted a work about the dispersal of native american crop species around the world. I have read 1491 and should have known that I would get was something both unexpected and meaningful. This book has a great deal to teach about the origins of the modern world.

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  • Posted November 3, 2011

    Great followup to "1491"

    This book is a great read. It provides new insights into the history of the world following the discovery of the Americas by Europeans in 1492. If you enjoyed the author's book "1491", you will find this sequel to be at least as interesting.

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  • Posted September 30, 2011

    Unusable Reader Beta for Mac

    Hard to say. The new Mac Beta reader doesn't open without deleting it and re-downloading, I can't bookmark any of the pages for reference, and the background isn't changeable to the eye-relaxing cream color. There must be other deficiencies with the new reader as it is inferior to the old one in every way, but I'll never know as I won't be using it till it's replaced by a functional one and therefore won't be buying from B&N online.

    0 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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