From the author of 1491 - the best-selling study of the pre-Columbian Americas - a deeply engaging new history that explores the most momentous biological event since the death of the dinosaurs.
More than 200 million years ago, geological forces split apart the continents. Isolated from each other, the two halves of the world developed totally different suites of plants and animals. Columbus’s voyages brought them back together - and marked the beginning of an extraordinary exchange of flora and fauna between Eurasia and the Americas. As Charles Mann shows, this global ecological tumult - the “Columbian Exchange” - underlies much of subsequent human history. Presenting the latest generation of research by scientists, Mann shows how the creation of this worldwide network of exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa, and for two centuries made Manila and Mexico City - where Asia, Europe, and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted - the center of the world.
In 1493, Charles Mann gives us an eye-opening scientific interpretation of our past, unequaled in its authority and fascination.
©2011 Charles C. Mann (P)2011 Random House Audio
Yes, this is a very informative book that covers many facets of the Colombian Exchange that effect us to this day. From the opening chapters discussing malaria to the silver trade with China and rubber plantations, I found this to be a page turner. A must read for anybody interested in economics, biology or just general history.
1491 - Read it if you like this one.
I have read this book and heard it on tape in my car. There reader generally does a quality job. I found him easy to listen to and he hit the right pace.
This is a scholarly work and I hesitate to use the term "moved you." However, the vivid historic imagery and interesting observations from the author do have a way of making you think about things that some might consider moving.
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.
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.
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.
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