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1493 (excerpt) by Charles C. Mann

1493 (excerpt) by Charles C. Mann



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Published by Alfred A. Knopf
From the author of 1491—the best-selling study of the pre-Columbian Americas—a deeply engaging new history of the most momentous biological event since the death of the dinosaurs.
From the author of 1491—the best-selling study of the pre-Columbian Americas—a deeply engaging new history of the most momentous biological event since the death of the dinosaurs.

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Publish date: Aug 9, 2011
Added to Scribd: Aug 04, 2011
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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felixelhombre reviewed this
Rated 3/5
Lots of really good information here about how CC shaped the world in many surprising ways.
epersonae_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
So many fascinating aspects of this book. I think I'll want to read it again at some point to absorb more of it, since I basically inhaled most of it over the course of two or three days. In short: all about what he refers to as "the Columbian Exchange" and how to led to the "Homogecene," ie, the modern age when ecosystems blend together and cross over. He ranges back and forth all over the globe, and from the dawn of the exchange (Colon himself!) up through the years to the present. (Most of it seemed to be in the "colonial" period, 16th-18th century.) Different sorts of malaria and malaria-bearing mosquitos; potatoes and sweet potatoes. Chinese migrants to colonial Mexico making replicas of Chinese pottery to sell in Europe. (Kicker to that story: now the Chinese are making copies of that style. Imitations all the way down.) Enormous colonies of Indians and escaped slaves, a few even recognized as mini-states. And traditions of slavery among Indians and Africans, and how those got tangled up in extractive industry.

The most curious bit of history, for me, was the Little Ice Age -- which I already knew of, but had assumed it was related to volcanos or sunspots or something. Turns out that while those things were factors, another major factor was reforestation. All throughout the Americas, land had been cleared by fire set by humans -- in Central America, for at least two thousand years. But with the beginning of the Columbian Exchange came smallpox, malaria, and yellow fever, and that killed off plenty of people who never saw a European or African. So the fires stopped, and it was like the opposite of the climate change we're facing now. Then the cold itself (along with flooding and drought) caused social upheaval in Europe and China, which led to more human craziness, etc., etc.

Fascinating stuff, and I feel like I've just got the surface of it. Very highly recommended.

[Final bit of trivia: at the end he goes looking for the place where the Spanish first landed in the Philippines. Turns out it's a village with the same name as one of my very good friends in high school.]
hadriantheblind reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Most elementary school children today are taught the basic gist of what is now known as the 'Columbian exchange' - the exchange of goods, people, and trading routes between Europe, Africa, and the American colonies of the New World. Most often, this is depicted as a neat triangle, and only one good being sent across the trading route.

Apart from being a simplification, this vastly understates the importance of this grand exchange. We can say, without any fear of exaggeration, that the course of world history was changed forever, and in more ways that any of the discoverers or conquistadors or traders could have ever imagined.

Obviously, anybody in the Western Hemisphere has this to thank. But let me list too briefly a few of the effects described:
1) Massive exchange of foodstuffs back and forth, allowing the populations of Europe and East Asia to swell massively.
2) The rise and fall of indentured service and slavery.
3) Massive exchange of microorganisms and small animals - the introduction of earthworms and bees to the New World, and disease back and forth across both.
4) The natural resources and economic background which allowed the Industrial Revolution to develop. Steel, rubber, and Fossil Fuels. Without the Columbian Exchange, it's doubtful if we'd have one of these.

In effect, Mann concludes that we have created a 'Homogenocene Age', where the world is environmentally homogeneous, as much as being economically unified. We are still feeling the effects of this. It is still to early to tell what the ultimate result of 1492 will be.

This is a tremendously informative and very fluidly written and researched history of everything. The minutest subjects have the greatest possible influences. Thoughts that come on dove's feet guide the world. Emphatically recommended.

Note: 1491 is not needed to read this first, but it's still great anyway!
bunwat_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
There are numerous other reviews on GR that will tell you what this one's about. I'm not going to reinvent the wheel - just say that I found it fascinating and thought provoking. Occasionally it was a little bit saddening - the long litany of sufferings, many of them so very avoidable got to me at times. I could have used a little more leavening but it was still an absorbing book, full up to the brim of "I didn't know that!" moments.
jorgearanda_1 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
A summary of the huge ecological and historical transformations that were triggered by Columbus' travels. Bloated but interesting.
elalce_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
An extraordinary work about how the European discovery of the New World changed the planer. Fascinating detail. Very well written and engaging. Presents ideas in a unique way.
rosielibrarian reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Very well-researched. Surprising and enlightening facts about the events that unfolded in the New World after Columbus landed here (known as the Columbian Exchange). There were more atrocities than the average American knows about and far-reaching consequences of colonization.
tahoegirl reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I really loved 1421, Mann's previous book and this new book did not disappoint. It was well written and extremely interesting. I enjoy learning new things and this book was an excellent use of my time.
vapops reviewed this
Rated 5/5
I thought 1491 was excellent - this is even better! It probably helps to have read 1491 first - sets the stage and style. 1493 is a very detailed and complete investigation and analysis of the influences (all of them) on the "New" World as the western hemisphere is discovered and "developed" and influenced. Also very interesting is the influence of the western hemisphere that spills back onto Europe, Africa, and Asia. Mann dubs this the Colombian Exchange.
rivkat_2 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Tracks the “Columbian exchange” of biological material (sweet potatoes, potatoes and people prominent among the participants) from the Americas to Asia, Africa, and Europe, and back again. It’s a neat way to organize the history, and contextualizes many huge changes—especially the most environmentally destructive ones, as society after society fouled its own nest in response to particular encounters with globalization.

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