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1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann

In 1491, Charles C. Mann challenges the conventional wisdom that the Americas were sparsely populated continents teeming with wildlife before the Europeans arrived on its shores. Using recent archaeological and anthropological research, he shows how the western hemisphere probably held more people than Europe with Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, having more people than any European city in 1491. He lists the mathematical and scientific accomplishments of the Mayans, Incas, and Aztecs, and shows how the Indian tribes of North America were populous and had already removed much of the wilderness to suit their own needs. What the Europeans brought were diseases such as small pox and hepatitis that decimated up to 90% of some native populations. By the time explorers reached central North America, the forests had regrown and the populations of animals such as the buffalo exploded in the absence of the native tribes. 1491 might force a rethinking of pre-European history in the Americas and has received mostly positive reviews. The Washington Post says, "Mann's 1491 vividly compels us to re-examine how we teach the ancient history of the Americas and how we live with the environmental consequences of colonization."
Buy 1491 by Charles C. Mann

San Francisco Chronicle review by Mary D'Ambrosio

Washington Post review by Alan Taylor

Seattle Times review by Bruce Ramsey

BookReporter.com review by Robert Finn

Boston Globe review by Roger Atwood

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