1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

In this groundbreaking work of science, history, and geography, Charles C. Mann radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492.

Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized breeding process that it has been called man ’ s first feat of genetic engineering. Indeed, Indians were not living lightly on the land but were landscaping and manipulating their world in ways that we are only now beginning to understand. Challenging and surprising, this a transformative new look at a rich and vivi world we only thought we knew.
Available Languages
Original Series
Year of the Publication
Publication Date
Published October 1st 2006 by Vintage (first published August 9th 2005
Original Title of the Book
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
Number of Pages

Community Reviews

Post your Comment
You should enter site to post the commentary
gave it

The omparisons between the two hemisphere 's agriculture and domesticable animals are fine, but the ssertion that Aztec ( apparently it 's more politically correct to call them Mexica) philosophy was as rich as medieval europe 's is ludicrous, especially given that such a huge volume of Aztec codices have been preserved and deciphered.

The Aztecs did some respectable philosophical work, but Mann 's exaggerations aside, they did n't come close to rivaling the work done in ancient Greece, to say nothing of the subsequent 2,000 years of philosophy in Europe ( with a nod towards Middle Eastern contributions as well) that took place between the death of Plat and the discoverie of the new world.

gave it

There is a reason why there was a period of 128 years between Colombus' landing and a permanent European settlement in North America.

The nly eason people think that most Native Americans were purely nomadic hunters was because the smallpox had killed off most of the 'urbanized' settlements that required agriculture.

gave it

Updated Recommendations: For an excellent nalysis of some of the earliest evidence of human habitation in North America, consider Settlement Of The Americas A New Prehistory -- it is more scholarly as well as being much more readable and interesting.

Timothy Egan 's Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis is an interesting introduction to one of the most definitive chronicles of Native American cultur in North America.

gave it

That said, there were numerous peccadillos.Mann starts with the basic fact that the West 's primary mistake in our conception of American Indians is that we have generally seen them as unchanging features in a primeval wilderness.

This, he argues, is dehumanizing, regardless of whether you prefer to prefix " savage " with " noble, " because a people incapable of change seems incapable of will, of thought, of ingenuity.He attempts to dismantle this notion by presenting research supporting 3 broad ideas:1) pre-Columbian population estimates are now assumed to be much higher than previously thought ( i.e. between the time of first contact and the colony at Plymouth, humanity in the Americans witnessed a massive die-off) 2) humans were present in North America for tens of housand of years, and the omplexity of their societies were comparable with with Eurasian counterparts3) Indians could and did exert influence over the natural worldOn the whole, I think Mann made convincing arguments for the broad stokes.

Reconstructing history is a tricky business fraught with error, so when you 're trying to communicate a challenging and controversial notion like the number of American Indians who died as a esult of European diseases, I think you need to go into excruciating detail about how population numbers are derived.

Have you seen any human artwork prior to Enlightenment Europe?

You get the picture.Finally, I found his constant comparisons to Europe and the general notio of hand-wringing and guilt a bit trying, and that 's coming from a self-avowed Western liberal hand-wringer.

I found the penultimate bit about defining our relationship to nature and the final section about the role American Indian concepts of freedom and individuality may have influenced the founder of the United States super intriguing, worth books of their own.

gave it

I knew pretty much othing about the Incas, the Mayans, the Aztecs, and all the other societies that actually were possibly BIGGER than Europe in 1492, and dwarfed it in centuries before.

gave it

This was like a coloring book of pre-Pilgrim North America for me in that it filled in a lot of unanswered questions and brilliantly illuminated some areas of my knowledge that were mere outlines.

Early on in school we were inundated with stories of Samoset and Squanto, the first Native Americans to make contact with the Plymouth Colony pilgrims, and how in 1621 they strolled into the transplanted Englishmen 's village and a big party broke out, thus began the tradition of Thanksgiving.

Something tells me this version of America 's founding by Europeans was not the one being taught in Virginia at the time ... Never was explained how the two natives could speak English ( from Englishmen fishing off of the Maine coast and, in Squanto 's case, from rap and internment for seven years in England) or anything that happened in the Americas prior to the pilgrims landing.

Now there is less grey-area material- advances in technology and archaeological practices have greatly advanced our knowledge of the past in just a few short decades- but there 's still plenty of unknown patches of time in the western hemisphere.

It does n't try to cast a glowing angelic light upon the native inhabitants to transform them into woodland spirits whose only concern was the reservation of the rees and the animals, etc blah blah blah ( Earth Day is quaint and misguided, but I digress ...), nor does Mann attempt to attack or defend the actions of the African.

gave it

I think this is a prime example of history getting bent ( in the best tradition illustrated in 1984) to reach certain ends.This book is not so much innovative ( quite a lot of all this had been published way before in professional research literature, 'traduit' to lots of languages).

Books with the same Year of the Publication

A Breath of Snow and Ashes
Until Death Do Us Part, Vol. 1
Magic for Beginners
Letters To Lily: On how the world works
Ride the Fire
Devil's Corner
Death Note, Vol. 6: Give-and-Take
Gokinjo Monogatari, Vol. 1

Books with the same Authors

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Books with the same Categories

The Buddha and the Borderline: My Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder through Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Buddhism, and Online Dating
The Mind Connection: How the Thoughts You Choose Affect Your Mood, Behavior, and Decisions
The Boys in the Boat: The True Story of an American Team's Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics
High on Arrival
Serpent in Paradise
Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement
In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History
Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently

Same Available Languages

The Art of Worldly Wisdom
Hôtel Splendid
The Willowdale Handcar
The Zookeeper's Wife
The Cupid Chronicles
Baseball in Ventura County
My Abandonment
The Case of the Team Spirit
Leave It to Me

About Authors

© Montage Publishing