Synopses & Reviews
From the author of 1491
— the best-selling study of the pre-Columbian Americas — a deeply engaging new history that explores 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 totally different suites of plants and animals. Columbus's voyages brought them back together — and marked the beginning of an extraordinary exchange of flora and fauna between Eurasia and the Americas. As Charles Mann shows, this global ecological tumult — the 'Columbian Exchange' — underlies much of subsequent human history. Presenting the latest generation of research by scientists, Mann shows how the creation of this worldwide network of exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa, and for two centuries made Manila and Mexico City — where Asia, Europe, and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted — the center of the world.
In 1493, Charles Mann gives us an eye-opening scientific interpretation of our past, unequaled in its authority and fascination.
"Having resurrected the isolated splendors of the pre-Columbian Americas in his bestselling 1491, Mann explores the global convergences and upheavals inaugurated by their discovery in this fascinating survey of the 'Homogenocene' era. Mann traces the subtle, epochal influences of the intercontinental 'Columbian Exchange' of flora, fauna, commodities, and peoples, showing how European honeybees and earthworms remade New World landscapes; how New World corn, potatoes, and fertilizer ignited Eurasian population booms; how Old World diseases prompted an eruption of slavery in the Western Hemisphere (the influx of Africans, not Europeans, to the Americas, Mann notes, was the main demographic result of the Contact); how Latin American silver undermined China's Ming Dynasty; and how the decimation of Indian peoples changed the world's climate. The author interweaves research on everything from epidemiology to economics into 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. 35 illus.; 12 maps. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"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
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. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.