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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created Paperback – July 24, 2012
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A New York Times Notable Book
A TIME Magazine Best Book of the Year
A Washington Post Notable Book
"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
—Lev Grossman, Time Magazine
“Compelling and eye-opening.”
—Publishers Weekly Top 100 Books of 2011
“A book to celebrate. . . A bracingly persuasive counternarrative to the prevailing mythology about the historical significance of the ‘discovery’ of America. . . 1493 is rich in detail, analytically expansive and impossible to summarize. . . [Mann’s book] deserves a prominent place among that very rare class of books that can make a difference in how we see the world, although it is neither a polemic nor a work of advocacy. Thoughtful, learned and respectful of its subject matter, 1493 is a splendid achievement.”
“Despite his scope, Mann remains grounded in fascinating details. . . . Such technical insights enhance a very human story, told in lively and accessible prose.”
“Mann’s excitement never flags as he tells his breathtaking story. . . There is grandeur in this view of the past that looks afresh at the different parts of the world and the parts each played in shaping it.”
“A muscular, densely documented follow-up [to Mann’s 1491]. . . Like its predecessor, 1493 runs to more than 400 pages, but it moves at a gallop. . . As a historian Mann should be admired not just for his broad scope and restless intelligence but for his biological sensitivity. At every point of his tale he keeps foremost in his mind the effect of humans’ activities on the broader environment they inhabit.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Evenhandedness, a sense of wonder, the gift of turning a phrase. . . Mann loves the world and adopts it as his own.”
“Charles C. Mann glories in reality, immersing his reader in complexity. . . . The worn clichés 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
“ 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
“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 Reviews, starred review
“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
“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
“A landmark book. . . Entrancingly provocative, 1493 bristles with illuminations, insights and surprises.”
“Fascinating. . . Engaging and well-written. . . Information and insight abound on every page. This dazzling display of erudition, theory and insight will help readers to view history in a fresh way.”
“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.”
“Mann has managed the difficult trick of telling a complicated story in engaging and clear prose while refusing to reduce its ambiguities to slogans. He is not a professional historian, but most professionals could learn a lot from the deft way he does this. . . 1493 is thoroughly researched and up-to-date, combining scholarship from fields as varied as world history, immunology, and economics, but Mann wears his learning lightly. He serves up one arresting detail after another, always in vivid language. Most impressive of all, he manages to turn plants, germs, insects and excrement into the lead actors in his drama while still parading before us an unforgettable cast of human characters. He makes even the most unpromising-sounding subjects fascinating. I, for one, will never look at a piece of rubber in quite the same way now. . . The Columbian Exchange has shaped everything about the modern world. It brought us the plants we tend in our gardens and the pests that eat them. And as it accelerates in the 21st century, it may take both away again. If you want to understand why, read 1493.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“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.”
“Mann’s book is jammed with facts and factoids, trivia and moments of great insight that take on power as they accumulate.”
—The Washington Post
“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.”
“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.”
“None of us could travel with Columbus in 1492. But that’s OK, because in 1493 we can take an even more exhilarating ride. This powerful rethinking of the origins and consequences of globalization is so illuminating, it’s scary.”
—Carl Safina, author of A Sea In Flames and The View From Lazy Point
“Almost mind-boggling in its scope, enthusiasm and erudition. . . Almost every page of 1493 contains some extraordinarily provocative argument or arrestingly bizarre detail. . . Ranging freely across time and space, Mann’s book is full of compelling stories. . . A tremendously provocative, learned and surprising read.”
—The Times of London
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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1491 reconstructs what North and South America were like before European contact, showing that the Americas were among the most densely populated regions of the world. Some of the cities in Mesoamerica and South America were bigger and more sophisticated than Europe’s most advanced cities at the time.
1493 chronicles global changes resulting from the interaction between continents, what Mann calls the Homogenocene, rewriting global ecosystems through the transportation of immigrants, slaves, new crop plants, livestock, pests, and diseases. Mann shows how malaria imported from Africa shaped colonies and influenced slavery in the New World, and how African colonization was often a bigger force in reshaping the Americas than European colonization. He shows how exploited riches of gold and silver sparked global trade networks and enriched some, but also flooded the markets with such vast wealth as to devalue precious metals and cause economic collapse instead of prosperity. Mann follows the trail of American crops that were introduced to the rest of the world, such as potatoes, tomatoes, maize, sweet potatoes, and rubber, showing how American foods helped stabilize and grow European populations, fueling global empire-building, and of course, crashes such as the Irish potato famine. From Asia to the Americas to Europe, Mann demonstrates how the discovery of the Americas reshaped the entire world, for better or worse, into a more homogenous mix of people, crops, and pests. It is a great read for understanding world history and the roots of globalization.
Some of these migrations were good, some was bad. Mr. Mann covers both sides of the story in a readable book.
The book is in four parts, and is written in an accessible, non-academic style. I found the first three parts of the book, which cover the impact of the Columbian Exchange on the Atlantic, the Pacific and Europe, respectively, to be captivating. These parts of the book demonstrated the fascinating interconnectedness of all things in a globalized society (in other words the “butterfly effect”) – for example, how transporting the sweet potato to Western China led to population migrations from Eastern to Western China, deforestation and overflowing of the Yellow River. The general result of such biological globalization is the creation of the Homogenocene epoch, a term which Mann uses to describe the biological homogenization that has replaced biological diversity since the time of Columbus. In the first three parts of the book, Mann demonstrates how history, biology and chemistry are all interrelated, and how today’s world continues to be influenced by the Columbian Exchange.
I found the last part of the book to be less impressive than the first three parts. Part Four is called “Africa in the World,” but confusingly it is about South America, not Africa. Parts of it read more like travel writing than history. Still, the book deserves five stars for the first three thrilling parts, which successfully trace the mesmerizing history of various everyday biological substances.
This book, for those not aware of the Colombian Exchange is a game changer as far as your view of world history. In actuality, world history begins with the Colombian Exchange, prior to that we had a history of the world. What the settling of the Americas wrought was an exchange of animal and plant life to around the entire planet. In terms of disease, the Americas were virgin territory and at some point the Americas were going to be found, either by Europeans or by Asian and in then the Americas were going to be depopulated by disease, It was regrettable and inevitable. Potatoes came from Peru, rubber plants from Brazil, guano from the Caribbean fertilized Europe for a long time. Europe brought more than disease and horses, prior tot he European movement to the Americas there were no earthworms here. Rubber plants had an enormous and not always beneficent effect on China; potatoes fed more than Ireland; guano increased food production and brought various and sundry diseases with it carried by little bugs. Mann is a journalist and the book is read bale and accessible and it can be enjoyed by a bright high school student. It was assigned to me in a graduate history class and believe me, the readability was a nice change.
The other side of the story, Europeans affect on the Americas and other places may be found in Andrew Crosby's excellent book, "Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe , 900-1900." This book is also readable if a little more academic in that it has extensive endnotes.