1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Charles C. Mann, Author . Knopf $30 (480p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4006-3

In a riveting and fast-paced history, massing archeological, anthropological, scientific and literary evidence, Mann debunks much of what we thought we knew about pre-Columbian America. Reviewing the latest, not widely reported research in Indian demography, origins and ecology, Mann zestfully demonstrates that long before any European explorers set foot in the New World, Native American cultures were flourishing with a high degree of sophistication. The new researchers have turned received wisdom on its head. For example, it has long been believed the Inca fell to Pizarro because they had no metallurgy to produce steel for weapons. In fact, scholars say, the Inca had a highly refined metallurgy, but valued plasticity over strength. What defeated the Inca was not steel but smallpox and resulting internecine warfare. Mann also shows that the Maya constructed huge cities and governed them with a cohesive set of political ideals. Most notably, according to Mann, the Haudenosaunee, in what is now the Northeast U.S., constructed a loose confederation of tribes governed by the principles of individual liberty and social equality. The author also weighs the evidence that Native populations were far larger than previously calculated. Mann, a contributor to the Atlantic Monthly and Science , masterfully assembles a diverse body of scholarship into a first-rate history of Native America and its inhabitants. 56 b&w photos, 15 maps. Agent, Rick Balkin. 40,000 first printing. (Aug. 12)

Reviewed on: 06/20/2005
Release date: 08/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 9 pages - 978-1-56511-978-9
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Open Ebook - 405 pages - 978-0-307-27818-0
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-56511-977-2
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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