1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

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Vintage Books, 2006 - History - 541 pages
1396 Reviews
This book presents a 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 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 thehope 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 account of scientific inquiry and revelation.

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Very well written and great end notes for research. - LibraryThing
A fascinating introduction. - LibraryThing
Still, it's a new and interesting reference. - LibraryThing
Very well researched and extremely eye-opening. - LibraryThing
Khipu were the Incas' only form of writing. - LibraryThing

Review: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

User Review  - Ian - Goodreads

This book has already been widely reviewed. Some of the reviewers below, such as Ken-ichi and Tripp, outline the basic 3 premises that the book advances. The book is extremely well-researched. The ... Read full review

Review: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

User Review  - Diana - Goodreads

A very interesting look at current research and theories about Native American populations through the Americas, and how that new research/thought has impacted and come into conflict with existing ... Read full review

About the author (2006)

Charles C. Mann is a correspondent for Science and The Atlantic Monthly, and has co-written 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 twice selected for both The Best American Science Writing and The Best American Science and Nature Writing. He lives with his wife and their children in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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