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1491 Audiobook

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

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Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking study that radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans in 1492.

Traditionally, Americans learned in school that the ancestors of the people who inhabited the Western Hemisphere at the time of Columbus' landing had crossed the Bering Strait 12,000 years ago; existed mainly in small nomadic bands; and lived so lightly on the land that the Americas were, for all practical purposes, still a vast wilderness. But as Charles C. Mann now makes clear, archaeologists and anthropologists have spent the last 30 years proving these and many other long-held assumptions wrong.

In a book that startles and persuades, Mann reveals how a new generation of researchers equipped with novel scientific techniques came to previously unheard-of conclusions. Among them:

  • In 1491 there were probably more people living in the Americas than in Europe.
  • Certain cities - such as Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital - were far greater in population than any contemporary European city. Furthermore, Tenochtitlán, unlike any capital in Europe at that time, had running water, beautiful botanical gardens, and immaculately clean streets.
  • The earliest cities in the Western Hemisphere were thriving before the Egyptians built the great pyramids.
  • Pre-Columbian Indians in Mexico developed corn by a breeding process so sophisticated that the journal Science recently described it as "man's first, and perhaps the greatest, feat of genetic engineering".
  • Amazonian Indians learned how to farm the rain forest without destroying it - a process scientists are studying today in the hope of regaining this lost knowledge.
  • Native Americans transformed their land so completely that Europeans arrived in a hemisphere already massively "landscaped" by human beings.

Mann sheds clarifying light on the methods used to arrive at these new visions of the pre-Columbian Americas and how they have affected our understanding of our history and our thinking about the environment. His book is an exciting and learned account of scientific inquiry and revelation.

©2016 Charles C. Mann (P)2016 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"In the tradition of Jared Diamond and John McPhee, a transforming new vision of pre-Columbian America." (Richard Rhodes)

"Every American knows it was a vast new world that Columbus found in 1492, and most imagine it was a thinly peopled paradise of plants, animals, and hunter-gatherers waiting for civilization. The reality, Charles C. Mann tells us in his startling new book about the world before Columbus, is very different - two continents teeming with languages, cultures, and mighty cities as big, as rich, and even more populous than the capitals of Europe." (Tom Powers)

"Charles C. Mann takes us into a complex, fascinating, and unknown world, that of the Indians who lived in this hemisphere before Columbus. He gently demolishes entrenched myths, with impressive scholarship, and with an elegance of style which that makes his book a pleasure to read as well as a marvelous education." (Howard Zinn)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (165 )
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4.4 (152 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Calvin Guthrie seattle, wa United States 09-29-16
    Calvin Guthrie seattle, wa United States 09-29-16 Member Since 2015

    Bluesproject

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    "Awesome Historic Accounting Well Told"

    Obviously extensively researched and told from as disinterested observer and not falling prey to temptation to editorialize these lives and cultures. The author takes obvious pains to not apply 21st century values and project them into what is already a deeply fascinating story on its own.
    The actor was polished and clearly enunciated even difficult native names and places. Overall an excellent choice of narrator.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wayne Hampton, GA, United States 09-18-16
    wayne Hampton, GA, United States 09-18-16 Member Since 2016
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    "I always wondered..."

    i always wanted to know about life before Columbus. I read about the huge herds, fish stocks and flocks of birds. now it makes sense. but it would seem the Polynesians would have played a larger role in S. America. Its good to read history. we need more on how connected the world was before Europeans decimated every culture they encountered.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher 01-19-17
    Christopher 01-19-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Exposes Non-Academic Audience to The Debate Between Ideas of Pre-Colombian America's"

    Overall this book is full of interesting ideas and great insights into what often never makes jt into history books or the histories we have been taught.
    However, I found the narration to be far too slow and inappropriate delays and interpretations of commas and sentence structure made listening difficult and sometimes unpleasant.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl West Palm Beach, FL, United States 11-01-16
    Carl West Palm Beach, FL, United States 11-01-16 Member Since 2017
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    "Why Are We Taught a False History"

    Like "Lies My Teacher Told Me", this great book tells us what school boards don't about culture, civilizations, and contributions made native Americans. Eye opening and sad for the great civilizations we lost and their poor descendants who have to yet recover. Should be required reading in high school. Reader is terrific.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leslie W. Stewart III 10-04-16 Member Since 2015

    Personal development with American and global history and its' impact or contribution to "Our Peculiar Institute".

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    "Before Columbus"

    The scope of the book went way deeper than I was expecting. Still it laid out a background and history of the Americas that is generally glossed over if mentioned at all.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-22-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Enlightening but Deep"

    I very much enjoyed it though I struggled to finish it. The topic is expansive and the names overwhelming at times. But the last chapter is quite enlightening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Monica Johnson 11-25-16 Member Since 2014
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    "New perspectives"
    What made the experience of listening to 1491 the most enjoyable?

    This book really got me to thinking about how we've been taught history and what really may have happened on this continent. The author does a fine job weaving together events and evidence to make a stong case. I found myself excited and intrigued about the theories presented.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blake 11-22-16
    Blake 11-22-16
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    "Great overall, but terrible pronunciation"
    Any additional comments?

    I haven't listened to any of his other performances, but I will say that his pronunciation on the majority of the names of people, groups, and place names was really bad. I don't expect perfect pronunciation, but if someone who had no background in any of the subject matter tried to hold a conversation using what they heard on this, someone familiar with the material might not even understand what they were referring to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Dearborne Mcallistor 11-11-16 Member Since 2013
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    "well done, provokes thought"

    well done, thought provoking book. I will probably be reading more books on this subject now.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scrushy 09-12-16
    Scrushy 09-12-16
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    "Is this about America or Mr. Mann?"

    The author spent a lot of time writing about himself, his emotions, and his experiences. Very disappointing, as the book was marketed as being about the Americas.

    4 of 10 people found this review helpful

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