I'm a junky for this kind of stuff, and after reading 1491 a few years back, I instantly bought 1493 when I saw it. Charles C Mann has an incredible knack for finding facts that are not only fascinating, but tell a story extremely well.
While 1491 focused in the Americas before Columbus, 1493 focuses on "the Columbian exchange". Basically the beginning of globalization. The connecting of two worlds and the profound impact it had on both hemispheres. Full of well done analysis, and enough amazing factoids to impress your friends at parties, this book is pure gold and Spanish silver, with Inca potatoes, and tomatoes on top, wrapped in a maize tortilla, seasoned with some Peruvian seabird guano. Delicious!
Top notch narration, too.
The information about the "Columbian Exchange" in all its complexity is presented in interesting and well-documented detail.
n/a This is a work of historical and geographical analysis, synthesis, and interpretation.
No--although I look forward to listening each time I pick it up.
As non-fiction goes, this book is easy to follow and remember. There is a fair amount of repetition but that aids the listener; references to future chapters are helpful.
I have been quoting information I have learned and have recommended this book to others since the day I began to listen to it.
1493 is more world focused than 1491 and that's probably what makes it feel so much more unfocused than Charles Mann's original. However, that doesn't turn out to be a bad thing just a different thing.
I enjoyed it as much I did 1491, but differently.
Also, the audionbook narration is well within the bounds of acceptable. I did find that playing it on "faster" rather than "normal" on my iPod went down better (though I usually listen to books at normal speed).
Charles Mann weaves a compelling narrative based on scientific historical evidence about the development of globalization following Christopher Columbus' rediscovery of the Americas. He focuses on the new diversity and unity of plant, animal, virus, and human life - using these facts to argue for a highly materialistic view of history. The narrative is compelling but cuts out many human elements often overlooked in such histories that attempt to be post-Western.
Yes, the contributions of Africans and the many tribes of pre-columbian and post-columbian "Indians" should not be overlooked - and this volume is excellent at bringing forth these oft overlooked events. It also rightly emphasizes China's economic woes at the time, which definitely had an impact on globalization. Nevertheless, Mann's neglect of "Western" ideas and institutions fundamentally weakens his account of globalization.
The book is narrated well, and a great study for those interested in the rise of globalization- it fills in gaps often left by more idea and institution focused accounts but should by no means be considered definitive.
Great account with many details of the post Columbus expedition. All those details are great in print but when read by Mr. Dean it gets a little tiresome. I decided to buy both the audio book and the print (author should be happy!), so I could look at the maps and photos, which are a very important part of the story. Mr. Dean needs to work on his pronunciation of Spanish words, but the audio editing is great. The book is very informative and with so many details, it's like an encyclopedia and it's difficult to follow only with the audio.
I have to give this 4 stars because it's just so darn impressive. The author clearly did his research, and he made the interwoven stories fascinating. Sometimes, however, the history became too complex to hold my attention. I would imagine that historians would find this more compelling.
I came away from the listen with a newly-found appreciation for how the Colombian Exchange began to interconnect the world, and I'm amazed at the impact that exchange of commerce had on so many millions of people. Who knew that the chief reason I live in the U.S. is because my ancestors fled famine-struck Ireland because Columbus discovered America and the potato was discovered in Peru! Huh!
I definitely recommend this book. I wish it could have been more concise, or attempted to cover fewer outcomes of the Exchange, but I'll have to trust that the author is more of an expert than I am.
What I liked best about this book was the narrative thread, and the way the author (who I think is a journalist, not a historian) developed his 'arguments' (really, his 'story') with an eye to keeping the reader interested.
What I liked least was that he spent very little time justifying his positions, providing sources, or describing any uncertainty about facts or interpretations. My own background on this period is limited, but some of what is baldly presented as 'fact' here, even I know is controversial (e.g., China's wealth in the 16th century, China's naval power). If you are considering reading this book, you should understand it is not a scholarly work, but is instead a journalist's attempt to synthesize and popularize scholarly work.
And Random House -- 'King' dynasty? Really? Can't you give your narrators a pronunciation guide?
Expected big things from this book. I'm a fan of historical writing but this was too dry for me. I plodded through it but it was a chore. You really need to have a passion for this subject to be captivated here.
This book is extensively researched, well written and well read. I have never been very interested in history books, but this book ties history to biology. It's one of those very rare well written science books. It provides a lot of hard information sprinkled with enough politics and economics to make a great story.
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.