Mother of three, grandmother of two, work full time as a labor and delivery nurse and love to listen to books while I am doing other things.
I listened to this book while getting ready for bed. I did sometimes fall asleep before the chapter finished and had to go back and find the part where I drifted off but it was very interesting and I enjoyed the fact that I could start fresh with each chapter and it did not matter if I had taken a day or two off or not. I feel I learned many things I had never realized.
I would certainly recommend this book. I think everyone should read it and be tested on it (I must read it again before I"m tested though!) There is so much to learn from this book.
Sad, sad, sad.
Sadly this is not Weatherford's best work. The title itself is plain odd, given that his first chapter focuses on the silver mines of Potosi and Zacatecas. Just to be clear, the sliver was not a "gift" of the Indians, millions of Indians were forced into the mines at gun- and swordpoint and worked to death. That's slavery, not a gift.
However, the real flaw is that Weatherford simply tries to hard. He seems unable trace the historical connections and cross-currents without drawing extreme and absurd conclusions. New World food products were and are very important around the world, but his claim that without the potato, the two world wars wouldn't have happened is as unprovable as it is absurd. Likewise, his claim that Machu Picchu was an agricultural research station is utterly without foundation, and just highlights his desperation to seize on any claim to support his conclusions.
It's a pity, because the subject matter is interesting, and there are plenty of connections and influence of Indian/New World products and idea that a general reader may not know. The over-the-top claims, however, damage the whole work. For a more thoughtful treatment of the same topic, readers might try Charles Mann's 1493.
The most frustrating thing about this book was it's jumping from one topic to another and one group of Indians to another. The author would also make generalizations on the one hand and then pepper the listener with facts some of which were confusing and poorly connected to the topic.
There was no story line to speak of.
There was also no balance in the presentation. I am convinced that many groups made significant contributions to in a number of ways. However, there were also groups who were not contributors.
Overall I was disappointed in this book and would not recommend it.
This book is a real eye opener, well worth listening to. I am not a history buff, so there are things in this book that I have never heard of before. Every thinking person needs to listen to this book. It makes you feel like you did not get the full story of our history in school. If every thing in this book is true, the history books need to be rewritten. I would encourage every one to listen to this book to fully understand our history.
I loved the book. The history is fascinating as are the historical connections made. I think sometimes these connections are stretched a bit too much to make the point, but the underlying concepts are sound. I learned a lot from this book.
I'm a big fan of non-fiction and science related books as it gives me insight into things about the world that I would otherwise be clueless about.
This book gave some interesting facts about how things originating in the Americas found it's way to the rest of the world. It was a refreshing look at the interactions of cultures and societies told from a non-European perspective. Some of the things credited to Indian crops seemed a little bit of a stretch. Yes they had a large impact on Europe but connecting it to technological advances comes up a little short and discounts many other factors needed for this kind of development. Otherwise, most of the topics were spot on and backed up with some interesting finds.
No, while there were some points of interest, overall, it was rather boring.
I had thought it would have more of an historic theme about the contributions of the American Indians and it wasn't
No real characters represented.
If it hadn't been a free book I would have returned it.
What usually passes for history is the myths offered by the survivor of a conflict of cultures to justify its misdeeds and explain why it survived and another culture did not. Jack Weatherford does a fine job of looking behind the myths generated by the conflict between European invaders and the Native American peoples that began in 1492. He does this by focusing on those elements of Native American culture, resources and technology that have shaped contemporary life to a profound degree. In taking this approach he avoids turning the book into a litany of woe, while still allowing the reader/listener a good deal of insight into the richness and complexity of the Native American cultures encountered by the Europeans.
By any objective measure, at the time of contact various Native American communities were far advanced in comparison to the European invaders with regard to mathematics, medicine, pharmacology and agriculture. Many of their political systems incorporated the principles of democracy, personal responsibility and civic virtue which are highly valued political ideals to a much greater extent than the monarchical and despotic systems of Europe at that time. Native American architecture produced efficient designs for living, appropriate to the various ecological settings in which the people were building, as well as some of the largest and most enduring monumental buildings in the world. Among the Native American people, the Incas produced the best paved road system in the world high in the Andes Mountains. Indeed, the only comparable roads are those built within the past few decades.
So, given the obvious strengths of Native American culture and its clear superiority in so many ways, how did the Europeans decimate the Native American population and culture within a few generations? It seems to boil down to a few factors. First, the Europeans brought diseases to which their immune systems had built up a resistance over centuries but to which Native Americans had no such immunity. Much of the decimation of the Native American population was the result of pandemics unwittingly brought to the Americas by the Europeans.. Second, Europe and Asia had animal species, such as horses and oxen, which were domesticated and used for transportation, as well as effective weapons (horses in battle). These developments lead to the use of the wheel for transportation and as a simple machine element for European engineers. For all their magnificent accomplishments, the Native American people relied primarily upon human labor rather than animals of machines. Third, metallurgy was available to both Europeans and Native Americans but was used for a much wider variety of purposes by the Europeans than the Native Americans. European weapons technology incorporated the use of metals early in history, so that by the time the Europeans invaded the Americas their swords and guns gave them a significant advantage over most Native American communities who had limited their metal work to decorative purposes.
The book is interesting and an easy listen, except perhaps the section on agriculture where I learned more about Native American potatoes than I ever needed or wanted to know. It is a book that makes you think. While I don’t think it intended to the book also stirred up a bit of anger at the ethnocentric exceptionalism that leads any group of people to think that they alone are God’s unique gift to history and that fact gives them the right and mandate to run roughshod over other people and cultures.
The narrator does a good job in performing the book.
Crazy Dog Lady
In the end, yes it was because I learned a lot from it.
This is another book where the title caught my attention, as I am part Native American. I was a bit disappointed that the focus was primarily on the indigenous tribes of South America. Overall, it was a very interesting book.