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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (Vintage)by Charles C. Mann
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of 1491 — the best-selling study of the pre-Columbian Americas — a deeply engaging new history of the most momentous biological event since the death of the dinosaurs.
More than 200 million years ago, geological forces split apart the continents. Isolated from each other, the two halves of the world developed radically different suites of plants and animals. When Christopher Columbus set foot in the Americas, he ended that separation at a stroke. Driven by the economic goal of establishing trade with China, he accidentally set off an ecological convulsion as European vessels carried thousands of species to new homes across the oceans.
The Columbian Exchange, as researchers call it, is the reason there are tomatoes in Italy, oranges in Florida, chocolates in Switzerland, and chili peppers in Thailand. More important, creatures the colonists knew nothing about hitched along for the ride. Earthworms, mosquitoes, and cockroaches; honeybees, dandelions, and African grasses; bacteria, fungi, and viruses; rats of every description — all of them rushed like eager tourists into lands that had never seen their like before, changing lives and landscapes across the planet.
Eight decades after Columbus, a Spaniard named Legazpi succeeded where Columbus had failed. He sailed west to establish continual trade with China, then the richest, most powerful country in the world. In Manila, a city Legazpi founded, silver from the Americas, mined by African and Indian slaves, was sold to Asians in return for silk for Europeans. It was the first time that goods and people from every corner of the globe were connected in a single worldwide exchange. Much as Columbus created a new world biologically, Legazpi and the Spanish empire he served created a new world economically.
As Charles C. Mann shows, the Columbian Exchange underlies much of subsequent human history. Presenting the latest research by ecologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians, Mann shows how the creation of this worldwide network of ecological and economic exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa, and for two centuries made Mexico City — where Asia, Europe, and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted — the center of the world. In such encounters, he uncovers the germ of today's fiercest political disputes, from immigration to trade policy to culture wars.
In 1493, Charles Mann gives us an eye-opening scientific interpretation of our past, unequaled in its authority and fascination.
"Fascinating....Convincing....A spellbinding account of how an unplanned collision of unfamiliar animals, vegetables, minerals and diseases produced unforeseen wealth, misery, social upheaval and the modern world." Kirkus (Starred Review)
"Charles C. Mann glories in reality, immersing his reader in complexity. He launches across the Atlantic with Columbus and swings port and starboard through time and space over the whole of the world. The worn cliches crumble as readers gain introductions to the freshest of the systems of analysis gendered in the first post-Columbian millennium." Alfred W. Crosby, author of The Columbian Exchange
"In the wake of his groundbreaking book 1491 Charles Mann has once again produced a brilliant and riveting work that will forever change the way we see the world. Mann shows how the ecological collision of Europe and the Americas transformed virtually every aspect of human history. Beautifully written, and packed with startling research, 1493 is a monumental achievement." David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z
"In 1491 Charles Mann brilliantly described the Americas on the eve of Columbus's voyage. Now in 1493 he tells how the world was changed forever by the movement of foods, metals, plants, people and diseases between the 'New World' and both Europe and China. His book is readable and well-written, based on his usual broad research, travels and interviews. A fascinating and important topic, admirably told." John Hemming, author of Tree of Rivers
"Charles Mann expertly shows how the complex, interconnected ecological and economic consequences of the European discovery of the Americas shaped many unexpected aspects of the modern world. This is an example of the best kind of history book: one that changes the way you look at the world, even as it informs and entertains." Tom Standage, author of A History of the World in Six Glasses
"Fascinating....Lively....A convincing explanation of why our world is the way it is." The New York Times Book Review
"Even the wisest readers will find many surprises here....Like 1491, Mann's sequel will change worldviews." San Francisco Chronicle
"Exemplary in its union of meaningful fact with good storytelling, 1493 ranges across continents and centuries to explain how the world we inhabit came to be." The Washington Post
"Engaging...Mann deftly illuminates contradictions on a human scale: the blind violence and terror at Jamestown, the cruel exploitation of labor in the silver mines of Bolivia, the awe felt by Europeans upon first seeing a rubber ball bounce." The New Yorker
"A fascinating survey....A lucid historical panorama that's studded with entertaining studies of Chinese pirate fleets, courtly tobacco rituals, and the bloody feud between Jamestown colonists and the Indians who fed and fought them, to name a few. Brilliantly assembling colorful details into big-picture insights, Mann's fresh challenge to Eurocentric histories puts interdependence at the origin of modernity." Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A landmark book....Entrancingly provocative, 1493 bristles with illuminations, insights and surprises." Shelf Awareness
"Spirited....One thing is indisputable: Mann is definitely global in his outlook and tribal in his thinking....Mann's taxonomy of the ecological, political, religious, economic, anthropological and mystical melds together in an intriguing whole cloth." The Star-Ledger
"Mann is trying to do much more than punch holes in conventional wisdom; he's trying to piece together an elaborate, alternative history that describes profound changes in the world since the original voyage of Columbus. What's most surprising is that he manages to do this in such an engaging way. He writes with an incredibly dry wit." Austin American-Statesman
"Although many have written about the impact of Europeans on the New World, few have told the worldwide story in a manner accessible to lay readers as effectively as Mann does here." Library Journal
"The chief strength of Mann's richly associative books lies in their ability to reveal new patterns among seemingly disparate pieces of accepted knowledge. They're stuffed with forehead-slapping "aha" moments....If Mann were to work his way methodically through the odd-numbered years of history, he could be expected to publish a book about the global impact of the Great Recession sometime in the middle of the next millennium. If it's as good as 1493, it would be worth the wait." Richmond Times-Dispatch
A deeply engaging new history of how European settlements in the post-Colombian Americas shaped the world, from the bestselling author of 1491. Presenting the latest research by biologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians, Mann shows how the post-Columbian network of ecological and economic exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa, and for two centuries made Mexico City — where Asia, Europe, and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted — the center of the world. In this history, Mann uncovers the germ of today's fiercest political disputes, from immigration to trade policy to culture wars. In 1493, Mann has again given readers an eye-opening scientific interpretation of our past, unequaled in its authority and fascination.
About the Author
Charles C. Mann, a correspondent for The Atlantic, Science, and Wired, has written for Fortune, The New York Times, Smithsonian, Technology Review, Vanity Fair, and The Washington Post, as well as for the TV network HBO and the series Law & Order. A three-time National Magazine Award finalist, he is the recipient of writing awards from the American Bar Association, the American Institute of Physics, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Lannan Foundation. His 1491 won the National Academies Communication Award for the best book of the year.
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