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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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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.

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This book was amazing.

I really loved the way the book was written, and the narration was superb. I feel that I am much more informed about our history.

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Better book, worse reader than 1491

Dean's pronunciations often leave much to be desired. Overall, more coherent writing than 1491 though.

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Interesting look at unexpected connections

The book is provides a intersting look at the biologocal impacts of connecting the Americas to the old world and Asia. Well researched and paced. Enjoyable and thought provoking.

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  • Rick
  • Urcuquí, Ecuador
  • 03-19-17

Magnificent Stowaways

Christopher Columbus, and especially the explorers and traders who followed, carried a lot more than settlers in the holds of their creaking wooden ships. Their unseen and unintended cargos would transform both sides of the Atlantic and beyond, in a global, accidental rearrangement of flora, fauna and culture that came to be known as The Columbian Exchange.

The consequences ranged from trivial to transformational. Sometimes, the world was altered in ways that could never be undone.

When British ships arrived to take on massive barrels of prized Virginia tobacco, they dumped their ballast – soil from England, containing nightcrawlers that had been entirely killed off in North America by the Ice Age. The result was more than a boon for future bass fishing. It changed the character of the native forest, with important implications for the future of agriculture and an agrarian society, not to mention the prospects for the Native Americans who had prospered on the land the way it was for thousands of years.

Malaria, the scourge of the tropical Americas, probably came from England, and may have become a significant driver of the slave trade. When shiploads of guano from South America provided the powerful natural fertilizer that coaxed abundant crops from exhausted European fields, they likely also carried the potato blight that killed a million people in Ireland and drove out a million more in The Great Famine of the mid-1800s.

“1493” is a scholarly work but never pedantic. Charles Mann is careful to separate scientific and historical fact from informed speculation. Robertson Dean delivers a clear, precise reading. A lesser narrator might complicate the wealth of information here.

Immerse yourself in the arc of history that transports you to the Jamestown settlement, Bolivian silver mines, and ancient Chinese dynasties. Or just turn to its 18 hours whenever you have a few minutes, and learn something amazing.

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Brilliant and timely

A tour de force of research and narrative and an important corrective to critics of globalization -- left or right -- who think it is something new or something that can be undone. Well written too!

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Lots of jumping around, but a wealth of info.

My only criticism of the book is that it can be difficult to keep up with due to the large list of people, places, time periods, etc. But of course it doesn't read like a novel because it isn't a novel. Instead this book covers a broad spectrum of fascinating revelations surrounding the history of the Columbian Exchange. At the end of the day, it's worth the read.

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Excellent view of the birth of globalization

I enjoyed this book very much. Some may say it's similar to Guns, Germs, and Steel but unlike 1493 that that book suffered from Eurocentrism and over simplicity. The only gripe I had was a couple pronunciation issues: pronouncing Qin as 'kin' is one thing but saying 'Edinberg' for 'Edinburgh' is awful!

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A Great History Lesson

I read this book a few years ago, and I loved it. I like listening to it because I picked up a few things that I didn't remember from my first read. It tells a great story about how the world became connected in ways I never knew before after Columbus hit the new world. The narrator is very very good, but maybe just a little stilted in his reading. Overall I recommend this book highly to those interested in history.

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Fascinating book...read by the best!

What made the experience of listening to 1493 the most enjoyable?

Fascinating material...and you can never go wrong with Robertson Dean.

Any additional comments?

What happened to the audible edition of Mann's prequel, 1491? It appears to no longer be available for sale through audible.com.