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
"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)
Very interesting and loaded with information. I needed to place my full attention on this book in order to get all the details. I have the actual book as well, and found myself having to return to certain sections to re-read parts I had missed while listening. If you are interested in the topics covered in this book, I suggest buying a copy of the book as well. There many interesting graphics, maps, and charts in the book that really add to the overall experience of 1491.
The author is all over the place in a seemingly random manner both in time and in place. There is much discussion of art and such that has nothing to do with the subject matter. Almost none of the book is actually devoted to what was actually the scene in 1491
A good read and some pretty good information on the Amercan's and the Indian population before Columbus. Well written for the non-antrhopologists. No doubt the academia eggheads will nic pic and find fault with it...but it's very enlightening. The author avoids the political aspects of things...and just lays out the facts as known to us today.
Fairly good read, er listen, brought me up to speed on some of the "high counters" arguements. A charged argument, but aren't most in anthropology.
I was a little concerned that I had got into a "picture book" level audiobook when the recording started with a pre-teen anouncing "audible kids". In the end, I did not think that it was a "kids" book or even a teens book unless the teen was advanced and had a desire to learn the subject matter.
Charles Mann has written an interesting book about what human civilization was like before Columbus. Much of this work, I understand, is necessarily speculative. However, the thorough work of Mann yields many insights worth the listening.
Listeners will need to pay closer attention to some portions of the text than they might be inclinded to do with other audio books. This is a history and portions of the book are involved. In any even, the listen will reward the patient.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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