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1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus | [Charles C. Mann]

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

In this riveting, accessible work of science, Charles Mann takes us on an enthralling journey of scientific exploration. We learn that the Indian development of modern corn was one of the most complex feats of genetic engineering ever performed. That the Great Plains are a third smaller today than they were in 1700 because the Indians who maintained them by burning died. And that the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact.
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Publisher's Summary

Based on the latest scientific findings, this breakthrough book argues that most of what we thought we knew about the Americas before Columbus was wrong.

In the last 20 years, archaeologists and anthropologists equipped with new scientific techniques have made far-reaching discoveries about the Americas. For example, Indians did not cross the Bering Strait 12,000 years ago, as most of us learned in school. They were already here. Their numbers were vast, not few. And instead of living lightly on the land, they managed it beautifully and left behind an enormous ecological legacy.

In this riveting, accessible work of science, Charles Mann takes us on an enthralling journey of scientific exploration. We learn that the Indian development of modern corn was one of the most complex feats of genetic engineering ever performed. That the Great Plains are a third smaller today than they were in 1700 because the Indians who maintained them by burning died. And that the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact.

Compelling and eye-opening, this book has the potential to vastly alter our understanding of our history and change the course of today's environmental disputes.

©2005 Charles C. Mann; (P)2005 HighBridge Company

What the Critics Say

"Johnson renders this thoroughly researched, well-written history of early North and South American Indian populations in a strong, clear voice, with excellent intonation. His diction is almost too perfect." (Publishers Weekly)
"Mann's 1491 vividly compels us to re-examine how we teach the ancient history of the Americas and how we live with the environmental consequences of colonization." (The Washington Post Book World)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (1230 )
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4.0 (681 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Centaur1129 East Coast, US 08-31-06
    Centaur1129 East Coast, US 08-31-06 Member Since 2006

    Centaur1129

    HELPFUL VOTES
    28
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    "Excellently detailed"

    This book provides an insight not common in history books. A view point almost as if from someone who was there as events unfolded. Totally unbiased,totally entertaining, totally enlightening.
    A must-have for any complete library.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald Stratford, PE, Canada 04-09-06
    Donald Stratford, PE, Canada 04-09-06 Member Since 2002

    stephens1414

    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
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    "1491..."

    A great deal of interesting information...
    I wish it had been presented in a more digestible manner.
    Some reviewers loved it.
    I suspect they might be ardent students of the subject.
    For someone less involved but who wanted to be educated it is overwhelming and a disappointment.
    It would work much better as a read.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Houston, TX, United States 02-12-06
    John Houston, TX, United States 02-12-06 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    5
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    "Listen"

    Mann's point in this book is to bring to a wide readership the recent scholarship on the America's prior to Columbus. This is he does, and does well, and the reader is excellent. Still, this may be a book better read than listened to. Necessarily, the author ranges over a wide space both geographically and historically. The strangeness of names of places and people often made it difficult for this lay reader to follow complex passages.

    But I heard enough to know this is a worthy and serious book. What's impressive in the end is how much we still don't know, how impressive is the knowledge gained for this place and time over the last 50 years, and how much is argued over between scholars, Native Americans, and enthusiasts when consensus doesn't exist. An excellent account of a time long past that remains so much a mystery despite the excellent work of many in different fields of expertise.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Uri San Diego, CA, USA 02-09-06
    Uri San Diego, CA, USA 02-09-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
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    55
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    "Fun, but is it true?"

    The book is enjoyable and interesting.

    It is very poorly organized, jumps around a lot.

    My main criticism, however, is that the author narrates for a long time about a given theory (e.g. that the flora in the Amazon basin was heavily influenced by pre-Colombian human presence) only to then say, that this may not be true after all, that just a few scientists (how respected? what do the leaders of the field think?) who believe so and many oppose them. As a reader you are not given the tools to choose for yourself, since seldom is the evidence that both sides of the debate interpret differently presented.

    The problem is that later on is hard to remember if what you heard is a fact, a possibility, or something that only a couple of lunatics believe

    It is hence a dangerous book to read, if you really want to learn, rather than just be entertained.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C Chestnuthill, MA, United States 04-04-07
    C Chestnuthill, MA, United States 04-04-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    75
    ratings
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    219
    70
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    4
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    Overall
    "Too long"

    The book was interesting but was too long and repetitive. It would have been better if 2-3 hours were cut. Also, the fact that the native Americans left no written records makes much of this information speculative.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Buena Vista, CO, United States 03-30-13
    Ted Buena Vista, CO, United States 03-30-13 Member Since 2012

    Retired business owner conservative

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    "Boring"
    What would have made 1491 better?

    Don't write it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    What could Charles C. Mann have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Not make it a dry text book


    Would you be willing to try another one of Peter Johnson’s performances?

    Yes


    What character would you cut from 1491?

    All


    Any additional comments?

    Dry useless information read aloud.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roxane RIO RANCHO, NM, United States 06-17-10
    Roxane RIO RANCHO, NM, United States 06-17-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    91
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    55
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    "An engrossing history"

    It isn't easy to find an audiobook that both my husband and I will enjoy on a road trip, but this one filled the bill. It's an excellent account, written for the laymen, of the archaeological revelations of the past half century, and the ways in which they have revised our views of early Native Americans and the country that they inhabited. Unfortunately the story told in most textbooks has not kept pace with the current state of the art, so this book fills an important gap for anyone whose information is based, as mine was, on high school and introductory college courses.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Troy LOVELAND, CO, USA 08-24-09
    Troy LOVELAND, CO, USA 08-24-09
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
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    Overall
    "Simply Excellent!"

    Reads much more like a novel than a history text. 'Read' it, you're sure to enjoy 1491 if you have any affection for history.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Norfolk, VA, USA 12-13-06
    John Norfolk, VA, USA 12-13-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Re-write History Books"

    This book is EXCELLENT! Utterly convincing, with some eye-opening stuff on Columbus too.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chantal 06-08-06
    Chantal 06-08-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "1491 - easy to listen to, but full of information"

    This book clearly outlines some amazing accomplishments by the New World's early inhabitants. It is full of information, but the information is provided at a pace and with enough narration that it reamins easy and entertaining to listen to, in contrast with one of my other favorite books, Jared Diamond's Collapse, that require full and undivided attention.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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