I'd read a bit about 'contact and conflict,' and wanted to learn more about the history of the Americas and the natives of the land- before Columbus. This is just that, and more.
My favorite parts are the descriptions of the natives by the Europeans and vice versa. Also the comparisons between the two groups of people, on both continents, at different time periods, is very insightful.
Many of my assumptions via previous education were faulty it turns out, and I'm glad to know it. Now, when I hear people talk about the 'Indians,' I have to say that things apparently weren't the way we have been led to believe.
The focus of this book definitely leans more toward the death of the natives by means of disease, which although apparently true, left out to an excessive degree by comparison - I felt- the very real destruction of the population by other means.
Still- good enough to listen to twice. Or three times.
Charles Mann has bought into a great anthropological hoax, where the thinnest threads of evidence are spun into a tapestry of archaelogical and ecological theories of how life might of, could of, should of been if not for the horrible Europeans.
Scholars from a wide range of academia have dismissed these so-called theories as "just wishful thinking," to quote renowned Smithsonian archaeologist Betty Meggers. Dr. Dean Snow, the Penn State anthropologist said "you can make the meager evidence from the ethnohistorical record tell you anything you want. It's really easy to kid yourself."
Mann spins an interesting tale, it's just that the real evidence for it isn't there, except in the minds of a handful of researchers who desperately want it to be true. Armed with this understanding, the book is an interesting read -- but putting its theories out as viable is analagous to claiming that the eco-horror movie "Day After Tomorrow" is a documentary.
This book is, at best, a re-hash of much of what Jared Diamond covers. Very little of it is set in 1491, so the author never really sets his own table for a feast. The indigenous names are hard to follow when heard rather than seen, and there is a lot of tedious detail. Some is interesting, and some is new, but most of this info is old hat.
I've become a sucker for Audible. I love audiobooks, to the point of addiction. Especially a good romance audiobook... :)
As an abridged version, I was a little reluctant to by this book. But the reviews from various sources, including amazon, goodreads, and audible, convinced me to try it.
While I would buy this book again if an unabridged version were released, I am thrilled with my purchase! This is fascinating newly charted territory!! The author has done a great job showing so many aspects of the Americas and its native peoples. For ex., religion, philosophy, art, poetry and other writings, along with the complicated cities and structures and lifestyles of these people. We discover the vastness of life on the americas; perhaps for the first time we can see how tragic the loss of these civilizations really is.
I don't feel like he blames anyone. Instead, I was impressed that he gave the native Americans a powerful voice in the book, instead of just portraying them as being victims of the inevitable.
Say something about yourself!
Yes, but only if they were very interested in a detailed explanations of the academic research in this area.
I was most interested in the description of Indian (the book uses that term) civilizations prior to the arrival of Columbus. This is the subject of the book.
I found the narrative too long and unfocused. It seemed like the author tried to tell everything he had learned rather than presenting materials in a focused, organized manner. The book tried to cover too much information resulting in a very long narrative. I was ready for it to be over.
The more I read the more I was amazed at how little I actually knew of "ancient" America. This insightful view into a panorama of in-depth research, disciplines, and topics uncovers for the reader an almost "alternate reality" of the pre-Columbian Americas with an excellent overview of other early peoples in other continents as well.
This is an excellent book for anyone interested in the past of the Americas, but also anyone interested in sci-fi, culture, and social dynamics on a global scale. Sci-fi readers would be interested in this book not because the facts presented aren't valid, instead because it transports the reader to an entirely different world than North American educated people would expect of the setting and time-frame.
Those interested in botany and the general ecological sciences may also be interested as it shows a history of the Americas and how we have the trees and plants we currently have.
Get swept away on a great tale and tour of a distant land and place and then wonder about who else may have lived and breathed on the land you may now call home.
Among the most informative books (along with the companion work 1493) I've listened to. This is a thorough overview of recent research and new facts regarding the status of the "New World" and how it came to be populated.
While there are no characters in this work of non-fiction Peter Johnson has a remarkable facility with the very difficult native American languages which allows for a seamless narration.
There were several points in the book that revealed the character of the native peoples in new ways. One comes to realize that the flaws and strengths of all people are quite the same and every culture has its moment of genius and absurdity.
Yes. We are starting to read the landscape and to get a clearer understanding that the virgin Americas weren't so virgin after all. Change is constant. Understanding change is not.
Realizing what has been studied and confirmed in the past 10 years!
A better reader. A story which flowed. This was a boring presentation
Didn't anyone know this is why kids hate history in school??
I would avoid it like the plague!!
Dismal disappointment.Great topic ruined by boring presentation.
Yes, I strongly recommend that this book be removed from the library.
history, science, et al.
Great book for anyone even mildly interested in Native American history. Narrates the unique culture and complex politics of the Iroquois, Inca, and Aztec in thrilling detail, as well as the story of Native American people as a whole. Cinematic descriptions of the pilgrims and conquistadors from the native point of view. Emphasizes scientific findings about Native American origins, engineering, agriculture, and ultimately epidemics and downfall. Highlights remaining questions as much as the "current" answers. Narrator is clear and animated.