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1493: How Europe's Discovery of the Americas Revolutionized Trade, Ecology and Life on Earth Hardcover – 15 Sep 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Granta (15 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847080499
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847080493
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 4.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 426,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

`Almost mind-boggling in its scope, enthusiasm and erudition ... a tremendously provocative, learned and surprising read' --Sunday Times

`A wonderfully entertaining and subtly balanced book' --New Scientist

'Drawing on new research, Mann reframes the past 500 years to riveting effect' --Nature

`Charles Mann gives us the version of the Columbian outcome that our era calls for'
--Literary Review

About the Author

CHARLES MANN is the co-author of four books, including The Second Creation: Makers of the Revolution in 20th Century Physics and the bestselling 1491 (2005/6). He is the correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly and Science magazines, and editorial co-ordinator for the internationally best-selling Material World books. He lives in Massachusetts.


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By M. D. Holley TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback
If you want an entirely alternative way of looking at history, read this book. You will probably learn, for the first time, many fundamentally important causes of familiar events. Causes which are not normally discussed in history lessons.

Perhaps we don't discuss these things because a potato or a malaria virus doesn't seem as exciting as the French Revolution or Abraham Lincoln. But Charles Mann can make a gripping tale out of the potato.

There are also many intriguing chapters of history that I had never come across before, and I am sure many readers will be in the same position.

The book is well very written and is constantly entertaining.

I felt it was a little too long and that some of the material (while always interesting) was a little far away from the theme. The author could perhaps have been more disciplined about what to include and what to leave out.

The final chapter struck me as a little odd too, as Mann suddenly becomes quite critical of globalisation but then seems unsure of himself. The style here does not quite fit the rest of the book. In reality globalisation (like most things - the printed page, or the internet for example) has good and bad aspects, being a reflection of the humans behind it.

Overall highly recommended, for a world view which is not available elsewhere.
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Format: Paperback
It's hard to praise this book too much. The writing is just as good as anything by Jared Diamond or Alfred Crosby. And rather than presenting his research like a lecture, Mann follows questions wherever they lead like a detective. And the trail leads everywhere -- the pirate coast of China, the trader bays of the Philippines, the rubber plantations of the upper Amazon, the mines of Peru. or the ruins of Christopher Columbus's house on the coast of Dominica. Why, Mann asks, did certain planters go toward a slave economy, and how was that shaped by the spread of malaria from the Old World? Mann follows the path of invasive species and crops as they spread through the world, causing booms or busts of economies and human populations. It's the story of the Homogenocene, the planet's new age of biological interpenetration of every environment, which for better or worse is our evolving reality since "contact" between the hemispheres.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Columbus' discovery of the New World in 1492 was the catalyst for change across the world. Suddenly navigation made trade easier and conquest became a priority, with the European 'superpowers' of the time all wanting a piece of the action. This globalisation had other effects though, the transmission of disease, the development of alien crops and the bitter struggles against slavery.

This book is a fabulous read. Extensively researched and making widespread links it shows how man, mammon and nature were all affected by the Columbian Exchange. Travelling from Europe to the Americas to Asia, Mann tells the story of silver and malaria, and why African slaves were preferred to cheaper 'indentured' white workers. It explains how China changed as much as the Americas and why the seeds of current discord were sown many centuries before. A thrilling mix of history and economics, 1493 is clever and addictive.
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Format: Paperback
This book represents volume 2 of Charles C. Mann's review of the Americas before and after Columbus's "discovery" of the western hemisphere.

In '1493' Mann takes the story on from the point of discovery to demonstrate how life in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas was alter as a result of the global trade which resulted between these continents. His central thesis, which is not an original one as he acknowledges, is that since Columbus set foot in the Caribbean, the world has lost its regional distinctiveness. This has led to progressive homogenisation across the planet throughout the last 500 years, a period of time he calls the Homogenocene.

The book covers a variety of wide ranging topics such as the Virginia colony, the effects of disease, cultivation of crops, China's obsession with silver, mosquito's and rubber. The book is structured by looking at the effect on different geographic areas such as Europe, the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The book however is too long. It lacks some of the focus and brevity of 1491. I found some of the stories he recounts are not as interesting as the author might think and I found myself flicking ahead to see how much of the chapter a particular topic covers.

Some of the maps are reproduced with font which makes them illegible.

Overall the book reads like a collection of magazine articles which have been elaborated which the statement inside the front cover that "portions of this book appeared in different form in The Atlantic, National Geographic et al" confirms. I tired of Mann repeatedly inserting comments where he introduced the name of researcher in a field who's account he drawing on. I know that you are a writer and not a specialist in the field. Just include a good bibliography.
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Format: Hardcover
"We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one." -- 1 John 5:19 (NKJV)

Don't miss this book! It's a tour de force!

In 1493, author Charles C. Mann accomplishes that most difficult of all nonfiction tasks: changing our perception of the world as it is . . . and how it got to be that way. Bravo!

To make the points easier to appreciate, he focuses on a few economic, biological, and physical aspects of how Columbus's voyages fundamentally changed the world. You'll learn about trading silver for silks in the Philippines, the influence of malaria and yellow fever on slavery, how crops and agricultural practices create other problems and opportunities, a sovereign debt crisis in Spain, hidden "kingdoms" of escaped slaves, miracle crops you think of as being part of "home" that you didn't realize came from another continent, and many stupid things that greedy people and governments do. You'll come away with a sense of wonder about how small things can become huge influences.

The book, no doubt, will also encourage you to want to read more about the topics raised in it. In some cases, you'll want to visit places you've never thought about before. The excellent footnotes will make either activity easy to pursue.

In my case, I realized what a close thing it was that I'm alive today. If my Scottish indentured servant ancestors had been sent to North Carolina rather than Delaware, you probably wouldn't be reading this review.
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