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

4.4 out of 5 stars 24 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: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 193,135 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Top Customer Reviews

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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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: 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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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: 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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Format: Hardcover
Review of the paperback edition:

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 starting with the "discovery" of the Americas by Christopher Columbus. Focusing on the movement of people, ecology, and resources, the book looks at how Columbus' journey sparked off a process of globalisation, detailing how this happened - focusing on several examples such as the slave trade, potatoes, malaria, and rubber to name a few - and how its effects can still be felt in the present day.

The book has clearly been extensively researched - as see by the nearly 70 page bibliography (It is quite surprising, however, to see the works of David Day, and John Darwin missing from this list even though the author quite clearly engages with some of their arguments and covers overlapping areas) - and is supplemented throughout by personal testimonies (from local people, scientists, and historians) collected by the author. However, the work is poorly footnoted (even if it does contain nearly 70 pages of endnotes), and in numerous places one cannot determine the source of information that Mann has used. In addition, Mann relies extensively on quoting various historians and scientists whom he has had verbal or e-mail conversations with, considering this is a serious work one would have expected published works to be consulted and sourced for at least verifiability sake. In incorporating these discussions, Mann continually breaks up the flow of text to state "Historian/Scientist X told me ...", rather than better integrating their thoughts into the text and fully crediting them, quite rightly, in an endnote.
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