Customer Reviews for

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

Average Rating 4
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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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