1491 : The Americas before Columbus

Author(s): Charles C. Mann


Up until very recently it was believed that in 1491, the year before Columbus landed, the Americas, one-third of the earth's surface, were a near-pristine wilderness inhabited by small, roaming bands of indigenous people. But recently unexpected discoveries have dramatically changed our understanding of Indian Life. Many scholars now argue that the Indians were much more numerous, were in the Americas for far longer, and had far more ecological impact on the land than previously believed. This knowledge has enormous implications for today's environmental disputes, yet little has filtered into textbooks, and even less into public awareness. Mann brings together all of the latest research, and the results of his own travels throughout North and South America, to provide a new, fascinating and iconoclastic account of the Americas before Columbus. First published 2005 in the UK as Ancient Americans - Rewriting the history of the New World & in the USA as 1491 : New revelations of the Americas before Colombus; under this title 2006.


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'Brilliantly insightful and unsettling book' Paul Muldoon, TLS *'A brilliant and startling exploration of the largely unrecognised great prehistoric cultures of the Americas' Popular Science Review 'Mann rewrites the history of the new world before Columbus. It should be compulsory reading for anyone teaching the history of the Americas' Tribune 'A well- researched and racily written new book... There are few better introductory books on the civilisations of pre- Columbian America, and none so up- to- date' The Spectator 'An immensely valuable book to anyone interested in agriculture and ecology as well as history and archeology. It is also rich in gossip about academic squabbles' Morning Star

Charles Mann is the co-author of four books, including The Second Creation: Makers of the Revolution in 20th Century Physics and Noah's Choice: The Future of Endangered Species. 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.

List of maps Preface Introduction / Holmberg's Mistake 1. A View from Above Part One Numbers from Nowhere? 2. Why Billington Survived 3. In the Land of Four Quarters 4. Frequently Asked Questions Part Two Very Old Bones 5. Pleistocene Wars 6. Cotton (or Anchovies) and Maise (Tales of Two Civilizations, part I) 7. Writing, Wheels, and Bucket Brigades (Tales of Two Civilizations, part II) Part Three Landscape with Figures 8. Made in America 9. Amazonia 10. The Artificial Wilderness Coda 11. The Great Law of Peace Appendixes A. Loaded Words B. Talking Knots C. They Syphillis Exception D. Calendar Math Acknowledgements Notes Bibliography Index

General Fields

  • : 9781862078765
  • : Granta Books
  • : Granta Books
  • : October 2006
  • : 200mm X 135mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Charles C. Mann
  • : Paperback
  • : New edition
  • : English
  • : 970.011
  • : 576
  • : 16 maps