My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
This is not what they taught when I was a kid in school. In fact, in those days they didn't even know most of this stuff. What Mann has done is gather together everything scholars have learned over the last 50 years about pre-Columbian America and put it together in one place. Sure, some of it is speculative and doomed to remain so, but most of it has a pretty solid body of evidence to support it. The story they used to tell us of a primitive unchanging life style over thousands of years gives way to a land thrown into turmoil by devastating epidemics. Reconstructing the society that existed prior to those epidemics gives a vastly different picture of what life was like in the New World. An evolving dynamic society that sadly lacked a written record to tell us more about what was lost.
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.
Boy! This book sure shoots great big holes in commonly accepted Pre-Columbian history! Interesting listen but will demand your full attention.
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.
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.
Awesome, tons of information, I'll be listening to it one more time. Wish could see pictures like in the book to help grasp it all better.
Say something about yourself!
This book does not pass the smell test. The number of adjectives to describe his theories that are everything except real proof are so numerous I started to write them down.
95% of the population died to explain the embarrassment of huge societies losing power to small numbers of Europeans is an absurd assertion with no proof to back it up.
I am sure it was easier to listen to than to read, since it was such dense material.
I already have!
The narrator did his best with such tough material.