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1493: How Europe's Discovery of the Americas Revolutionized Trade, Ecology and Life on Earth [Hardcover]

Charles Mann
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Sep 2011
Two hundred million years ago the earth consisted of a single vast continent, Pangea, surrounded by a great planetary sea. Continental drift tore apart Pangaea, and for millennia the hemispheres were separate, evolving almost entirely different suites of plants and animals. Columbus's arrival in the Americas brought together these long-separate worlds. Many historians believe that this collision of ecosystems and cultures-the Columbian Exchange-was the most consequential event in human history since the Neolithic Revolution. And it was the most consequential event in biological history since the extinction of the dinosaurs. Beginning with the world of microbes and moving up the species ladder to mankind, Mann rivetingly describes the profound effect this exchanging of species had on the culture of both continents.

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1493: How Europe's Discovery of the Americas Revolutionized Trade, Ecology and Life on Earth + 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (Vintage)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Granta (15 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847080499
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847080493
  • Product Dimensions: 16.7 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 359,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprising gems 8 Sep 2013
By M. D. Holley TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A solid, engaging work of popular history 13 Jan 2013
By Jints
Format:Kindle Edition
Mann gets off to a blistering start in this entertainingly written popular history but unfortunately is not able to sustain the quality in the second half.

The first few chapters describe what Mann calls the "Tobacco Coast" - the Jamestown settlement and its relationship with the American Indians. Mann is at his best here, explaining the details of malaria and the mosquitos who carried it, the politics of the Indian tribes and of the English emigrants. The next few chapters are equally good - there is a wonderful explanation of the Chinese monetary system and why for the first time the Chinese needed something from Europeans - silver. Equally interesting is his narrative on the spread of American crops such as sweet potato and potato in China and Ireland and their role in ecological disaster and in famine.

Thereafter, Mann gets a bit repetitive and moves away from the central thesis of the book. His chapter "Black Gold" on the spread of rubber trees to Indo-China, while interesting in its own right means a repetition of the points already made in relation to the potato. Respite is at hand with a good, balanced chapter on the causes and effects of the slave trade. But as the author runs out of things to say we lose the synthesis and analysis of theories on the Columbian exchanges and get bogged down in travelogue and unconnected, rather repetitive stories of (e.g.) maroon communities.

Throughout, Mann is balanced in explaining different points of view on globalisation - both its benefits and its costs. He writes more in the style of a journalist than a historian. Whether you find this attractive or not is a matter of taste. On the whole, I liked it but thought there was an avoidable tendency towards hyperbole on occasions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 19 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed this book tremendously. It is apparently an amplification of an earlier book on the same subject. Much of the information is mind blowing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! 17 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Amazing, enlightening and enthralling. Only trouble is I now have to read more! What an eye opening historically accurate factually based journey. I am about to purchase his earlier books to continue the journey.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
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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5.0 out of 5 stars amazing! 18 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is The single best book that I have ever read about the impact of the first voyages of the Spanish, on the New Work and on Asia and the related repercussions for Africa and Europe. It tells the tale of the first ever "globalisation" phenomenon. Brilliant indeed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully inquisitive and adventurous
It's hard to praise this book too much. The writing is just as good as anything by Jared Diamond or Alfred Crosby. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Brian Griffith
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book
Pretty simple, one of the best books that I have read in a very long time. Interesting insight covering numerous subject areas.
Published 15 months ago by Marcus
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed an interesting
A very interesting and well-written book on an important subject. The writing is pleasant to follow and the facts are presented with clarity. Read more
Published on 16 Sep 2012 by J. Archibald
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed thoughts
While the title appears to be nothing more than a marketing ploy to tie in with the author's earlier work, this is a remarkable easy to read narrative of the rise of global empires... Read more
Published on 6 Aug 2012 by Carl
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, should be required reading...
I thoroughly enjoyed Mann's other book on this general topic, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, so I was quite keen to read this one. Read more
Published on 23 April 2012 by C. Ball
5.0 out of 5 stars history of globalization
This book is a masterly treatise of the historic meeting of two worlds. It describes -historically correct- with new facts and unexpected perspectives, the discovery of North and... Read more
Published on 5 April 2012 by J. P. Kaas
4.0 out of 5 stars history as it should be taught
I knew the history teacher was being economical with the truth, neat lines and dates that nice explains everything about about the Americas. Read more
Published on 19 Jan 2012 by F. Cudjoe
4.0 out of 5 stars 1493
The book arrived in good conditions and on time. I have not yet read the book but the person who got it as a present is very happy with it.
Published on 30 Dec 2011 by Pablo
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