1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

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Vintage Books, 2006 - History - 541 pages
1679 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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The writing style was easy to read. - Goodreads
This book was very hard to read. - Goodreads
Well researched and interesting. - Goodreads
Very readable and highly educational! - Goodreads
However, the scholarship is a little iffy. - Goodreads
A good book with a simple premise. - Goodreads

Review: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

User Review  - Pamela_b_lawrencemsn.com - Goodreads

Wow! What a book! Mann summarizes more recent research and thinking on indigenous groups of the Americas that challenges long-time thinking and has detractors. The research challenges the notions that ... Read full review

Review: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

User Review  - Lori - Goodreads

Who lived in the Americas before 'we' came along? How informed are we about our forebears? 1491 demonstrated, to me at least, that we are woefully ignorant. Although I am no real scholar, as a life ... Read full review

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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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