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1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

af Charles C. Mann

Andre forfattere: Se andre forfattere sektionen.

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingSamtaler / Omtaler
5,8741621,255 (4.16)1 / 262
Mann shows how a new generation of researchers equipped with novel scientific techniques have come to previously unheard-of conclusions about the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans: In 1491 there were probably more people living in the Americas than in Europe. Certain cities--such as Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital--were greater in population than any European city. Tenochtitlán, unlike any capital in Europe at that time, had running water, beautiful botanical gardens, and immaculately clean streets. The earliest cities in the Western Hemisphere were thriving before the Egyptians built the great pyramids. Native Americans transformed their land so completely that Europeans arrived in a hemisphere already massively "landscaped" by human beings. Pre-Columbian Indians in Mexico developed corn by a breeding process that the journal Science recently described as "man's first, and perhaps the greatest, feat of genetic engineering."--From publisher description.… (mere)
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Engelsk (156)  Fransk (2)  Finsk (1)  Spansk (1)  Hollandsk (1)  Alle sprog (161)
Viser 1-5 af 161 (næste | vis alle)
This book was my introduction to the idea the Americas were substantially different in the century or more before mainstream European contact than in the 100-200 years after that contact (when they were first documented by the West). It's pretty widely known and accepted that old world diseases dropped the population of the Americas by 50-90%, but the type of changes these brought were massive in quality as well as simply reducing population uniformly.

Among other things, there's great evidence that the ecology of the Americas (including areas like the Amazon basin and the megafauna of the midwest) were actively managed by natives, and the overgrown jungle and herds of millions of bison were anomalies caused by the death (from disease) of those managing the systems. Lack of written records and extensive use of metal makes the American archaeological record very challenging and incomplete, but there are some solid pieces of data like differential levels of bones of different animals in different locations (which, along with the assumption natives ate the animals, would imply that an animal with lower bone prevalence would have just not existed in huge numbers), etc.

Some of it could have been presented more clearly or concisely, but it was overall quite engaging. ( )
  octal | Jan 1, 2021 |
4.5 stars. Excellent. Author presents updated information on the history of Native Americans and South American Indians. His arguments are gentle yet persuasive, as he moves through the timelines of different archeological and anthropological studies. The important takeaway is that our ideas of pre-Columbian American Indian life may be quite contrary to what we were taught. ( )
  micahammon | Dec 19, 2020 |
A fascinating read about the time before the first western Europeans arrived in the Americas. Part of read more like an novel, others have a bit dry university in it. But overall really enjoyful. ( )
  gullevek | Dec 15, 2020 |
Sigh, Holmberg didn't 'make a mistake' he used scientific racism. His scientific determinations about Native Americans aren't mistakes. Racism is a form of control and therefore ALWAYS intentional.
If an author is unprepared to deal with white folks behaving badly because of racism, he should've picked another continent on which to set this. As it stands this stance is disrespectful to the very people who's history he's supposed to be providing. Racism is never a mistake or oversight.
The author's inability to leave Europeans out of a book that doesn't include them is annoying. His inability to hold the perpetrators of this genocide accountable is dangerous. Pulling histories for marginalized peoples out of white folks records is a standard method of study and many of the biographies I've read employ this technique. In the beginning generally the author explains where the info/facts/history comes from, the records of the farm or plantation etc, without making those whites the center of the story. No attempt is made to give the subjects that same dignity in this narrative.
Yet for all it's flaws it is a groundbreaking book that ties all of this research together in one place. Just do not give any weight to the author's conclusions. One of the author's main goals here is to expose the mistaken history while protecting white supremacy. It's an intricate dance that ultimately fails.
If this interests you aptn.ca (aboriginal peoples television network) made an 8 part series with this same name. It's considerably better as it includes much more info than exists in this book or I'm told 1493. Also it's created by Native Americans/ First Nations so no need to protect white supremacy. This show is also available on Vimeo. I rarely suggest this but in this case, skip the book watch the show. The history is more accurate and Europeans are non-existent, as they should be in 1491 Americas. ( )
  LoisSusan | Dec 10, 2020 |
I've been hearing about "1491" for quite some time now. Apparently it took me fifteen years to get around to reading it.

I've decided now is a good time for me to learn more about Native American history. I few months ago I started reading Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's "An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States." A few chapters in, I decided that the book was covering such a broad swath of history as to be akin to reading an encyclopedia article, and I lost interest in the book and put it down. Denbar-Ortiz mentioned "1491" as a source for some of her research, and this prompted me to switch over to it.

As you might have guessed from the title, the premise of the book is looking at the pre-Columbian Americas. The book is the result of at least fifteen years of dedicated research on the part of Charles C. Mann.

The thesis of the book is that Native Americans have been here a very long time (with possibly five waves of immigration over the past 25,000 years). During the early Middle Ages, the Americas were home to one fifth of the world's population, and had civilizations that were at least as "advanced" as Europe. During the 150 years following first contact, 95% percent of Americans died of alien diseases, resulting in the largest-known genocide in history.

Although I anticipated a history, this book spends as much time dealing with the science of archaeology and various debates about how we might interpret the historical traces. I wonder how common understanding has evolved in the fifteen years since publications.

The book is effective at instilling a sense of awe and respect of previous civilizations of this continent.

One thread the book explores is the meaning we derive from alternative histories. Were Native Americans in balance with nature systems and cycles, and what can they teach contemporary civilizations about sustainability? Mann points out that there is no monolithic indigenous culture; the Americas were more diverse in pre-Colombian than post-Colombian times, and you would certainly have a hard time arguing that the Americas today form any kind of cohesive culture as a whole. So in other words, your answers to the question above depend on what specific nation you're holding in your consideration. On the one hand, we should be careful not to deceive ourselves that indigenous Americans were in some kind of perfect harmony with nature. On the other hand, as Drawdown suggests, there's a lot we can learn from indigenous stewardship, and we would do well to return more land to indigenous dominion. ( )
  willszal | Dec 2, 2020 |
Viser 1-5 af 161 (næste | vis alle)
Mann has written an impressive and highly readable book. Even though one can disagree with some of his inferences from the data, he does give both sides of the most important arguments. 1491 is a fitting tribute to those Indians, present and past, whose cause he is championing.
 
Mann has chronicled an important shift in our vision of world development, one our young children could end up studying in their textbooks when they reach junior high.

 
Mann does not present his thesis as an argument for unrestrained development. It is an argument, though, for human management of natural lands and against what he calls the "ecological nihilism" of insisting that forests be wholly untouched.
 
Mann's style is journalistic, employing the vivid (and sometimes mixed) metaphors of popular science writing: "Peru is the cow-catcher on the train of continental drift. . . . its coastline hits the ocean floor and crumples up like a carpet shoved into a chairleg." Similarly, the book is not a comprehensive history, but a series of reporter's tales: He describes personal encounters with scientists in their labs, archaeologists at their digs, historians in their studies and Indian activists in their frustrations. Readers vicariously share Mann's exposure to fire ants and the tension as his guide's plane runs low on fuel over Mayan ruins. These episodes introduce readers to the debates between older and newer scholars. Initially fresh, the journalistic approach eventually falters as his disorganized narrative rambles forward and backward through the centuries and across vast continents and back again, producing repetition and contradiction. The resulting blur unwittingly conveys a new sort of the old timelessness that Mann so wisely wishes to defeat.
 

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Mann shows how a new generation of researchers equipped with novel scientific techniques have come to previously unheard-of conclusions about the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans: In 1491 there were probably more people living in the Americas than in Europe. Certain cities--such as Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital--were greater in population than any European city. Tenochtitlán, unlike any capital in Europe at that time, had running water, beautiful botanical gardens, and immaculately clean streets. The earliest cities in the Western Hemisphere were thriving before the Egyptians built the great pyramids. Native Americans transformed their land so completely that Europeans arrived in a hemisphere already massively "landscaped" by human beings. Pre-Columbian Indians in Mexico developed corn by a breeding process that the journal Science recently described as "man's first, and perhaps the greatest, feat of genetic engineering."--From publisher description.

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