"A superbly written and very important book: by far the most comprehensive synthesis I've ever seen of the growing body of evidence that our most deep-rooted ideas about the peopling of the Western hemisphere and the kinds of societies that had developed there by the time of European contact are fundamentally wrong. Charles C. Mann is one of those rare writers who can make scholarly concepts exciting and accessible without trivializing them. In 1491 he has integrated the latest research in many different areas with his own insights and experiences to produce a fascinating and addictively readable tour through the 'New World' before its 'discovery.' His book is, above all, a wonderful, unsentimental act of restitution-challenging centuries of cultural contempt and willful blindness to show just how vigorous, various, densely populated and profoundly human the pre-Columbian Americas really were."
-James Wilson, author of
The Earth Shall Weep: A History
of Native America
"In the tradition of Jared Diamond and John McPhee, a transforming new vision of pre-Columbian America."
"Every American knows it was a vast new world that Columbus found in 1492, and most imagine it was a thinly peopled paradise of plants, animals, and hunter-gatherers waiting for civilization. The reality, Charles C. Mann tells us in his startling new book about the world before Columbus, is very different-two continents teeming with languages, cultures, and mighty cities as big, as rich, and even more populous than the capitals of Europe. But there was one thing the new world lacked-resistance to the diseases of the old. This is a lively book, filled with excitements and sorrows-a major contribution to our understanding of the achievements and the fate of the people we call Indians."
"Charles C. Mann takes us into a complex, fascinating, and unknown world, that of the Indians who lived in this hemisphere before Columbus. He gently demolishes entrenched myths, with impressive scholarship, and with an elegance of style which that makes his book a pleasure to read as well as a marvelous education."
"When does American history begin? The old answer used to be 1492, with the European arrival in the Americas. That answer is no longer politically or historically correct. For the last thirty years or so historians, geographers, and archaeologists have built up an arsenal of evidence about the residents of North America after the ice receded and before the Europeans arrived. Mann has mastered that scholarship and written the most elegant synthesis of the way we were before the European invasion."
-Joseph J. Ellis, author of
His Excellency: George Washingtonshow more