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Publisher's Summary

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Worthy sequel to 1491

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).

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Interesting but limited

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?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Scott
  • Scarborough, ON, Canada
  • 11-15-13

Dry and tedious

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter
  • Guelph, Ontario, Canada
  • 09-17-12

Had to abandon ship

What disappointed you about 1493?

Great concept but the writing plods along and the monotonous narrator only made it worse. I abandon very few books but this one just didn't live up to the billing. The author wastes a lot of time listing the achievements and affiliations of everyone cited or quoted. He should have left it for the footnotes and focussed on bringing the story alive. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that this was a PhD thesis and if so, the book editor should have been more assertive about trimming the fat. I wondered at times what the content - such as the interminable description of Chinese commerce - had to do with the Columbian Exchange. If you like books of this nature, try Guns, Germs and Steel instead.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Barbara
  • Sacramento, CA, United States
  • 08-20-12

Globalization has a very long history

What did you love best about 1493?

The information about the "Columbian Exchange" in all its complexity is presented in interesting and well-documented detail.

Who was your favorite character and why?

n/a This is a work of historical and geographical analysis, synthesis, and interpretation.

Which scene was your favorite?

n/a

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No--although I look forward to listening each time I pick it up.

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Monica
  • New York City, NY
  • 05-26-12

Interesting thesis; mediocre reading

What did you like best about 1493? What did you like least?

Well-researched with interesting details.

If you’ve listened to books by Charles C. Mann before, how does this one compare?

Annoying pompous tone and bad pronunciation--whoever pronounces the Qing dynasty as "king" dynasty?

Would you be willing to try another one of Robertson Dean’s performances?

No

Could you see 1493 being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Yes; not sure

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Impressive research and storytelling

Fast paced book informing the reader so much about the world he/she had no idea of. Never gets boring.

I only wish the author had called Native Americans something other than “Indians”. To me it seems like a continuation of centuries of European injustices to them. Referring to them as Indian makes them sound as some sort of foreign exotic people living on American lands, and deliberately not acknowledging that they are the first Americans.

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The Year the World Changed

Would you listen to 1493 again? Why?

Yes, because it's jam packed with information.

What other book might you compare 1493 to and why?

The author's previous '1491' is also excellent, but there is very little overlap in information.

Which scene was your favorite?

The episodes involving 'Maroons' - escaped African and Indian slaves - against the Europeans was a history I'd never heard before.

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Holy Moly

Where do I begin on this mind blowing journey of global trade, biology, war and rebellion? It's worth your time and money

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Interesting but not as good as 1491

The central theme is the benefits, and costs, that have accrued from the Colombian Exchange.

The repetition of this theme becomes tedious.

The book also trumpets the long standing theme that the depletion on native populations in the Americas was primarily due to lack of native resistance to European and African diseases which accompanied the ships. This theme has been strongly challenged be Andres Rezendez in The Other Slavery, published in the summer of 2016 (also available on Audible) with a convincing 100 pages of references. If you find 1493 appealing I recommend Rezendez’s book as a credible counterpoint.