1491 by Charles C. Mann
New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

77%

15 Critic Reviews

An excellent, and highly accessible, survey of America’s past...
-Kirkus

Synopsis

In this groundbreaking work of science, history, and archaeology, 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 fascinating world we only thought we knew.




From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Charles C. Mann

See more books from this Author
Charles C. Mann is a correspondent for Science and The Atlantic Monthly, and has cowritten four previous books including Noah's Choice: The Future of Endangered Species and The Second Creation. A three-time National Magazine Award finalist, he has won awards from the American Bar Association, the Margaret Sanger Foundation, the American Institute of Physics, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, among others. His writing was selected for The Best American Science Writing 2003 and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2003. He lives with his wife and their children in Amherst, Massachusetts.
 
Published October 10, 2006 by Vintage. 560 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Self Help. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Aug 28 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for 1491
All: 15 | Positive: 12 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Excellent
on May 20 2010

An excellent, and highly accessible, survey of America’s past...

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Kevin Baker on Oct 09 2008

Mann navigates adroitly through the controversies. He approaches each in the best scientific tradition, carefully sifting the evidence, never jumping to hasty conclusions, giving everyone a fair hearing...

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Nuthatch on Mar 20 2008

Very well-written, thorough, and thought-provoking...

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Examiner

Above average
Reviewed by Richard Weaver on Aug 27 2011

Mann’s search for the earliest settlers goes back further than most...

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Book Reporter

Above average
Reviewed by Robert Finn on Dec 22 2010

Our learned tour guide seems unwilling to choose sides. This is disappointing --- but we cannot deny that we have learned a lot from him in the course of this long and difficult journey through time.

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The Seattle Times

Above average
Reviewed by Bruce Ramsey on Aug 12 2008

... in his eagerness to correct the idea that the Europeans were superior in all things, the author gives them credit in almost none.

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BellaOnline

Good
Reviewed by Rebecca Graf on Feb 11 2013

Mann has done a superb job of exploring the history of the Americas prior to Columbus and showing the world that there is more to this continent than we ever realized.

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Daily Kos

Good
Reviewed by Bluesee on Oct 04 2011

After reading the book in it's entirety, I am given much pause, thinking on how much we missed the mark, when we failed to appreciate our fellow humans in all their splendor.

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Daily Kos

Above average
Reviewed by hof1991 on Aug 20 2008

Not as technical or original as Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel...

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Foreign Affairs

Excellent
Reviewed by Richard Feinberg on Jan 01 2008

With its many enlightening comparisons to European achievements, 1491 should be required reading in all high school and university world history courses.

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AuthorsDen

Above average
Reviewed by David Schwinghammer on Oct 19 2009

Most impressive for me was Mann's analysis of Indian technology.

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A Patchwork of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Tom Nissley on Feb 11 2013

Mann is well aware that much of the history he relates is necessarily speculative, the product of pot-shard interpretation and precise scientific measurements that often end up being radically revised in later decades.

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Asian Review of Books

Good
Reviewed by Peter Gordon on Feb 11 2013

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus is well worth reading if no other reason that Mann’s ability to pose the current questions of archaeology in a way that males them relevant to a number of today’s most pressing questions.

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Nashville Public Library

Above average
Reviewed by Kyle on Dec 18 2009

The work creates a very different, more provoking, study than the grammar school text books provide.

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Provo City Library's Children Book Review

Good
Reviewed by nsl on Feb 16 2010

The book is full of artist's renditions of past events as well as modern photographs showing some of the incredible ruins of these cultures. Thoroughly enjoyable, a great nonfiction read.

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Reader Rating for 1491
83%

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Pete Herner 23 Jun 2013

Rated the book as 4.5 out of 5

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