1493 by Charles Mann
Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

82%

10 Critic Reviews

Brilliantly assembling colorful details into big-picture insights, Mann's fresh, challenge to Eurocentric histories puts interdependence at the origin of modernity.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

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.

More than 200 million years ago, geological forces split apart the continents. Isolated from each other, the two halves of the world developed radically different suites of plants and animals. When Christopher Columbus set foot in the Americas, he ended that separation at a stroke. Driven by the economic goal of establishing trade with China, he accidentally set off an ecological convulsion as European vessels carried thousands of species to new homes across the oceans.

The Columbian Exchange, as researchers call it, is the reason there are tomatoes in Italy, oranges in Florida, chocolates in Switzerland, and chili peppers in Thailand. More important, creatures the colonists knew nothing about hitched along for the ride. Earthworms, mosquitoes, and cockroaches; honeybees, dandelions, and African grasses; bacteria, fungi, and viruses; rats of every description—all of them rushed like eager tourists into lands that had never seen their like before, changing lives and landscapes across the planet.

Eight decades after Columbus, a Spaniard named Legazpi succeeded where Columbus had failed. He sailed west to establish continual trade with China, then the richest, most powerful country in the world. In Manila, a city Legazpi founded, silver from the Americas, mined by African and Indian slaves, was sold to Asians in return for silk for Europeans. It was the first time that goods and people from every corner of the globe were connected in a single worldwide exchange. Much as Columbus created a new world biologically, Legazpi and the Spanish empire he served created a new world economically.

As Charles C. Mann shows, the Columbian Exchange underlies much of subsequent human history. Presenting the latest research by ecologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians, Mann shows how the creation of this worldwide network of ecological and economic exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa, and for two centuries made Mexico City—where Asia, Europe, and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted—the center of the world. In such encounters, he uncovers the germ of today’s fiercest political disputes, from immigration to trade policy to culture wars.

In 1493, Charles Mann gives us an eye-opening scientific interpretation of our past, unequaled in its authority and fascination.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Charles Mann

See more books from this Author
Charles C. Mann, a correspondent for The Atlantic, Science, and Wired, has written for Fortune, The New York Times, Smithsonian, Technology Review, Vanity Fair, and The Washington Post, as well as for the TV network HBO and the series Law & Order. A three-time National Magazine Award finalist, he is the recipient of writing awards from the American Bar Association, the American Institute of Physics, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Lannan Foundation. His 1491 won the National Academies Communication Award for the best book of the year. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.
 
Published August 9, 2011 by Vintage. 560 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Science & Math, Political & Social Sciences, Nature & Wildlife, Travel. 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 1493
All: 10 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 2

Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Robin Blackburn on Nov 04 2011

The value of 1493 stems from its lively and diligent accounts of the actual course of history – but its subtitle does incite one to speculate how different the course of "life on earth" might have been.

Read Full Review of 1493: Uncovering the New Worl... | See more reviews from Guardian

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Jul 04 2011

Brilliantly assembling colorful details into big-picture insights, Mann's fresh, challenge to Eurocentric histories puts interdependence at the origin of modernity.

Read Full Review of 1493: Uncovering the New Worl... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Wall Street Journal

Excellent
Reviewed by ALFRED CROSBY on Aug 09 2011

As a historian Mr. Mann should be admired not just for his broad scope and restless intelligence but for his biological sensitivity.

Read Full Review of 1493: Uncovering the New Worl... | See more reviews from Wall Street Journal

The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Gregory McNamee and Steven Levingston on Aug 25 2011

...fascinating and complex, exemplary in its union of meaningful fact with good storytelling, ranges across continents and centuries to explain how the world we inhabit came to be.

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Toby Green on Oct 21 2011

Mann is as comfortable in the 16th century as the 21st, and provides insightful commentary about how the world has changed along the way.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Below average
Reviewed by Bruce Watson on Aug 14 2011

For all but the scientifically insatiable, reading "1493" may be like listening to that zealous science teacher so many of us had.

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Oregon Live

Excellent
Sep 24 2011

Thoughtful, learned and respectful of its subject matter, "1493" is a splendid achievement.

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NJ.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Jonathan Lazarus on Aug 07 2011

...no matter what the title, one thing is indisputable: Mann is definitely global in his outlook and tribal in his thinking.

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Publius Online

Below average
Reviewed by Daniel B. on Apr 03 2012

...the story is just too large, too vast, and too complicated. The reach and the effects of the homogenocene...are perhaps too great for one book.

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Science Blogs

Good
Reviewed by Chad Orzel on Aug 30 2011

As with the previous book, I’m happy to recommend it to anybody interested in the subject; and if Mann’s right about the extent to which the modern world was shaped by globalization, pretty much everybody ought to be interested in the subject.

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Reader Rating for 1493
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