1491 – Charles Mann (2005)

1491 by Charles Mann1491 by Charles Mann is a wide ranging look at the native populations of the Americas prior to Columbus. This includes examinations of the Inca and pre-Inca civilizations, the Maya and other groups in Mesoamerica, and some material on North American tribes.

I recommend this book because it really makes you think about what pre-conceptions we might have about the ‘Indians’ and what it might mean to us if indeed the pre-1491 populations were much larger and more ‘advanced’ than we’ve been taught. As with almost all human populations, it appears that the native americans were very inventive with their environments, and in some cases apparently made very long-lasting sustainable changes. This is a new view of ‘living lightly on the land’ that needs to be examined.

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  • By Mediated » Blog Archive » 2005 in Review on December 25, 2005 at 6:08 pm

    […] Finally on the history front – I found this year’s 1491 by Charles Mann to be very intriguing in its survey of the ‘new world’ prior to Columbus – apparently much more populated and complex than we had been taught! And covering more recent ground, What the Dormouse Said (2005) by John Markoff writes about the (at least partially) drug-fueled emergence of the silicon era, and Rick Perlstein’s Before the Storm (2001) covers the Goldwater era and the rise of modern conservatism. […]

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