1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

by Charles C. Mann
3.9 139

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Overview

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann

A groundbreaking 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, 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 Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital–were far greater in population than any contemporary European city. Furthermore, Tenochtitlán, 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.

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. His book is an exciting and learned account of scientific inquiry and revelation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400040063
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/09/2005
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 238,717
Product dimensions: 6.63(w) x 9.51(h) x 1.46(d)

About the 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 Foundation, among others. His writing was selected for The Best American Science Writing 2003 and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2003. He lives with his wife and their children in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 139 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
StreamFollower More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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).
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully explained and organized. The wealth of data is amazing and the unbiasedness is welcomed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One would think that reading about so many stats would just put one to sleep, BUT it did just the opposite for me. To understand the advanced societies in the Americas for so many centuries before the arrival of European virus just boggled my mind. If you have any interest in our past this is a must read. Until this book my perspective of pre-Columbus America was the European version.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have always thought the traditional history taught in schools is incorrect and lacking. But I don't think this book provides all the answers. I think Mann assumes quite a bit in some of his arguements and makes some claims that seem to be a stretch at best. But this is a good book and I think anyone interested in history should read it, just keep an open mind on some of the claims. Just because it is in a book does not make it true.
mike-v More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting book, full of information I had never seen or heard before. The author writes very clearly and is easy to understand. Occasionally, the sections were so dense with information that I became a little lost and confused--I found it hard to keep up with all the Indian names--but other than that I enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am fortunate enough to have a first edition of this book. While I don't agree with everything that he wrote, the man made me THINK. The history itself is interesting and presented well. The most valuable service that this book does, though, is to clearly point out that more than a few generally accepted "facts" are really theories. BTW, "1493" is a good read, too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read
Guest More than 1 year ago
Who were the first people on North and South America and how did they arrive here? A subject some don't care about but for us who do, its truly a mystery. The author chose a subject knowing how many would disagree with him but he came through with material to back his ideas up. Its interesting in that we can use this to save ourselves from destruction since so many before us did the same things were doing and didn't learn. To save our planet from our own wrath and be the ones who can at least say we learned from the past. What civilization will come next if we don't learn now? This is what our children have to look forward to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. Gives you a point of view that you don't hear very often.
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The book 1491 by Charles C. Mann provides a wonderful and interesting look into the Americas before Columbus. In the book, Charles Mann answers long asked questions about ancient America, from the first Thanksgiving to the time when the first Americans crossed over from Asia on the Bering Strait. (This theory is also a hot subject for debate in this book.) Overall I immensely enjoyed this book as it provided me with answers to questions I have been asking myself for several years. Such as whether ancient Americans really were here before the Asians crossed the Bering Strait. I would recommend this book for people who have a yearning for history and enjoy ancient cultures.
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SOGAARD More than 1 year ago
This is a must read for anyone who wants to have a glimpse into life before Europeans. It is a shame what has been lost. This book dragged a bit in the middle but overall was an excellent source of information.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago