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1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbusby Charles C. Mann
Charles C. Mann has pulled off an impressive feat — a scholarly, thorough work of history that's almost compulsively readable. In 1491, he summarizes and examines the last thirty years of research into the pre-Columbian Americas, and comes to some startling and exciting conclusions. Mann is an enthusiastic and capable guide, and 1491 is satisfyingly rich with description, anecdote, and example.
Synopses & Reviews
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. From the astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, which had running water, immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city, to the Mexican corn that was so carefully created in a specialized breeding process that it has been called man's first feat of genetic engineering, 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.
"Mann has done a superb job of analyzing and distilling information, offering a balanced and thoughtful perspective on each of his themes in engaging prose." Library Journal
"Unless you're an anthropologist, it's likely that everything you know about American prehistory is wrong. Science journalist Mann's survey of the current knowledge is a bracing corrective....An excellent, and highly accessible, survey of America's past." Kirkus Reviews
"In sum, Mann tells a powerful, provocative and important story — especially in the chapters on the Andes and Amazonia." Alan Taylor, the Washington Post Book World
"[A]n important corrective — a sweeping portrait of human life in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus....A remarkably engaging writer, [Mann] lucidly explains the significance of everything from haplogroups to glottochronology to landraces." Kevin Baker, The New York Times Book Review
"Mann has written a landmark of a book that drops ingrained images of colonial America into the dustbin one after the other, such as that of the Pilgrims finding a pristine world of woodlands and guileless natives." Boston Globe
"A must-read survey course of pre-Columbian history — current, meticulously researched, distilling volumes into single chapters to give general readers a broad view of the subject." Providence Journal
"[A] concise and brilliantly entertaining thesis. I don't agree with all his big conclusions, but 1491 makes me think of history in a new way." Los Angeles Times
Mann offers a groundbreaking study that radically alters readers' understanding of the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans in 1492.
About the Author
Charles C. Mann is a correspondent for Science and The Atlantic Monthly, and has cowritten four previous books including Noah' 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.
Table of Contents
List of Maps
INTRODUCTION / Holmbergs Mistake
1. A View from Above
PART ONE / Numbers from Nowhere?
2. Why Billington Survived
3. In the Land of Four Quarters
4. Frequently Asked Questions
PART TWO / Very Old Bones
5. Pleistocene Wars
6. Cotton (or Anchovies) and Maize (Tales of Two Civilizations, Part I)
7. Writing, Wheels, and Bucket Brigades (Tales of Two Civilizations, Part II)
PART THREE / Landscape with Figures
8. Made in America
10. The Artificial Wilderness
11. The Great Law of Peace
A. Loaded Words
B. Talking Knots
C. The Syphilis Exception
D. Calendar Math
From the Hardcover edition.
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