That said, there were numerous peccadillos.Mann starts with the basic notio 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 thousand of years, and the flexibility 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 caus 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 feeling 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 ounding of the United States super intriguing, worth books of their own.