This book presents a very entertaining portrayal of little known historical trivia of factors of change caused by the Columbian Exchange between the new world and the old, after Columbus discovery in 1492. Most of these interesting stories of change and interconnectedness between the new and old worlds will have likely not been known by the reader prior to reading this book. Focuses to a large degree food crop exchanges, trade, exploration, culture. Although the stories are entertaining, I was expecting all of these various stories to be tied up into a conclusion forming the authors overall thesis for explaining all of these events. But this may not have been the intended purpose of the book, and it is still worth reading just for noting the interesting stories and observations by the author.
This book helped put things in historical perspective. Much like Gun Germs and Steel, the book describes how Geography, population, and psychology intermixed to form the world today. The best example is that African's natural resistence to malaria made them more attractive as slaves then Europeans, which had been used till they kept dying of malaria.
The neutrality of the information. There was not much slant, bias, or commentary in the text. The author did a good job of presenting the facts.
This book would not translate well to film.
I am an English teacher in China and can now read and write some Chinese.I have been to 13 countries on 4 continents.I am an avid audiophile
This is a great way to begin to grasp where things in the modern world have come from.Things we take for granted now.Sugar,rubber,silver and tobacco are all talked about extensively.I could begin to see why Europe still has the highest valued money in the world.They stole labor from Africa,and the America's.When things got too messy England cut its losses and simply left America to find its own way.They had brought over many slaves and the slaves and indigenous people outnumbered their overseers.Furthermore,they worked together and found solutions their European oppressors couldn't see due to greedy expansion and competition.My interest is peaked enough that I want to hear the predecessor to this book 1491 in the future.You could also have a look at 1421,which provides a Chinese perspective on history that is very different than what we were fed in school.It postulates that the Chinese may have arrived long before Columbus.Columbus used the maps from the Chinese to discover America.
Mann has applied his journalistic skills in the research and development of a comprehensive narrative that a broad seqment of readers will find accessible and enjoyable. Drawing from updated scholarly perspectives in multiple disciplines, Mann highlights events, trends, and reasonable probability to frame the complex global network that has been the foundation of the modern era. If you have any expertise or interest in history, epidemiology, economics, anthropology, agriculture, cultural studies, to name a few, you cannot help but to marvel at the connections that Mann brings into the daylight, many of which have been shamefully neglected or obscured in the writing of 20th Century history books.
Mann pulls along a basic subtext, which seems to pose the question to anyone who opines for the "good old days" before the introduction of non-native species into domestic ecosystems, global trade, and ethnic migration and integration (basically many of the major political complaints and anti-globalization arguments of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries): how far back would we have to turn the clock to achieve a virgin status for these issues. Of course, the answer is at least 500+ years. More to the point, our preconceived notions of what virgin status even means has been shaped largely by ignorance and national/political interests than anything else. Mann also addresses the issues at about the 500 ft. level of granularity, so that the narrative does not get bogged down by footnotes and citations; nor does it run the risk of being derailed by the inaccuracies of a few details (I am not aware of any).
Dean's narrative is laid-back and evenly paced. Pronunciation of specific terms or names may momentarily raise eyebrows. But, then consider that somebody somewhere probably adheres to some of those pronunciations.
The history of the last 500 years as you've never heard it before.
This is a fresh view of history and the legacy of European colonialism in the Americas
The global view of the issues with an eye on the current legacy and present effects
Dean is a great narrator. He well personifies the voice of authority
A living legacy of race and class discrimination
I would greatly recommend this book to students of history and social studies
E Fitz Smith
Loved the first book '1491.' From that point on - European desire for innovation and cash crops gradually infected the already busy shores of the new world. Metal weaponry or microscopic invaders - take your pick. They are among many variables that either hindered or bolstered victories for colonists and the original peoples alike in the slow burn that birthed the Americas as we know them today.The next time you eat a batch of McDonald's french fries know that you are ingesting a tuber cloned from a vine on an ancient Peruvian mountain side.And that tomatoes were considered poisonous berries.The narrative of this book is dry and factual - the way I like it. No tales of heroism. A blow by blow description of how the human races, dispersed across Pangea and upon their return, collided in their quest to live another day.I could not wait to get into my car each night and consume a new hour of revelations from '1493.' It is a global tale that can tell you everything about what our world is going through today.
The potato eaters observed llamas licking clay soil before they ate potato tubers to offset the toxins in those plants, classified as nightshades. So the humans followed suit in their eating of potatoes and dipped them in a sauce of clay.
Definitely and I already have recommended this book to a number of people.
The telling of the consequences of the Columbian Exchange, how the Americas and the rest of the world were profoundly affected by each other.
I haven't read the print version. It's good to have the print version around to refer back to the text when I'm recalling part of the book, but print is hard to read in the car. :)
The author did a great job tying together the history with his overlying concept regarding the flow of history once humanity globalized humans, cultures, plants, and animals.
No particular favorite scene. I enjoyed "cover to cover".
The book made me think. It caused me to change how I think about human history and how cultures clash, merge, change, thrive or die. It helped me understand how we became who we are.
Great book. I enjoyed it completely and will listen to it again. It might seem hard to get excited about history, but I did get excited listening to various parts of this book.
Great concept but the writing plods along and the monotonous narrator only made it worse. I abandon very few books but this one just didn't live up to the billing. The author wastes a lot of time listing the achievements and affiliations of everyone cited or quoted. He should have left it for the footnotes and focussed on bringing the story alive. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that this was a PhD thesis and if so, the book editor should have been more assertive about trimming the fat. I wondered at times what the content - such as the interminable description of Chinese commerce - had to do with the Columbian Exchange. If you like books of this nature, try Guns, Germs and Steel instead.
I would certainly listen to this again, but first I would order the preceding book, 1492, to get a better idea of the world that Columbus sailed into. I'd heard a podcast of an interview with Charles Mann on NPR and was attracted to the idea of learning about the transference of plants and diseases by Columbus and other early explorers. I didn't realize that the book would encompass in addition the effects of moving people from Africa, South American silver to China and the movement of people into North America. This books explores a much wider set of topics than I expected and I was fascinated to learn about so much that followed from the Columbian Exchange. I listened while on my morning walks and they became longer and longer as I listened with growing interest.
The narration by Dean added greatly to my enjoyment of this book because he sounded so interested himself. His inflections and pronunciation made everything he said very clear to me, even though I listened at 1.5x regular speed.
Hard to go wrong with this one if you are interested in the world around you anyhow it got that way.