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Starred Review. 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
*Starred Review* Science journalist Mann proves audacious as a surveyor of pre-Columbian history, for few topics are so fraught with controversy. Emanating from the academic, activist, and environmental arenas, the disputes share a revisionist drive to dismantle the popular perception that the New World was a pristine wilderness in balance with its inhabitants. Accordingly, Mann opens with an episode familiar to most Americans, the Plymouth colony of the Pilgrims and its salvation by the friendly Squanto, or Tisquantum, his proper name, according to Mann. Indian altruism toward encroaching Europeans was never quite convincing, so following a discerning inquiry into Tisquantum's more likely motivations, with his Wampanoag people devastated by disease, Mann discusses examples of when warfare abruptly terminated Indian history, as with Pizarro and the Inka (formerly the Inca). Drawing upon the research of recent decades, Mann constructs fascinating narratives of Indian empires, interweaving theories about their rise and fall that are debated by specialists in archaeology, physical anthropology, linguistics, and ecology. Mann had to master an impressive breadth of material but better yet is his clarity and judgment, which meld into a compelling and balanced introduction for general readers. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Some parts are fascinating. Very well researched. Seems to get lost in detail oftenPublished 15 days ago by johnny sea ranger
It is a very interesting book, and it arrived in very good conditions,
Terrific, never learned this stuff in school. Clearly more plausible explanation of history.Published 13 months ago by Lynne (Tim) Hutchins
"What is the conclusion then?" -- 1 Corinthians 14:15 (NKJV)
Accurately describing the past is tricky business. Read more
Did Mr Bass read past the dustcover of this excellent book? If he had then he should have mentioned that 1491 embodied recent research, duly presented with counter-arguments that... Read morePublished on Jan. 29 2011 by K. Reid