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Aquarelle, la lumire de l'eau yFor nature something that is self evidently true by the way But in this case the birds were also an oddity Because the Indian farmers had died the corn harvests were left in the fields the amount of food available for these birds exploded and with that so too did their populations What Europeans witnessed and considered normal were in fact a conseuence of removing humans from what had been a human made landscape And onceou do that other animals take the opportunity to flourish This book has shifted how I understand the pre European Americas if The Routledge Companion to Free Will you are from the Americasou should read this not only because it is a fascinating read but also because it will serve as a useful reminder of a cultural heritage ou still have responsibilities for Just as we Australians can never be reconciled with the land until we help to heal the wound we have made by our terrible and tragic history so too the Americas have a debt that needs to be repayed I m astonished at how many people mention in their reviews that they are surprised at how rich and varied and impressive the cultures of the Americas were until a My favorite recent history book Mann surveys the breadth and complexity of indigenous cultures in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus Some of this research was familiar to me When I taught American history in the 2000s I would start with such snapshots of Cahokia the Olmecs the Serpent Mound the Maya the great trade networks that connected the continent But even that information was hard to find Good luck finding even a mention of it in the school textbooks Despite having some knowledge I was blown away again by how populated and cultivated the American landscape was before the cataclysmic arrival of Europeans and their diseases This book blows up many stubborn out dated theories like the singular Bering land bridge migration the idea that the land was mostly empty when Europeans arrived and the idea that most indigenous peoples were simple hunter gatherers It also gives us a good look at just how stubborn and resistant traditional Euro American scholarship has been to accepting any new information that didn t fit established theories about the indigenous peoples None of this will comes as a surprise to indigenous readers themselves I m sure but for me it was a refreshing amazing read I knew nothing about the vast sophisticated terraforming societies of sub ian South America or the pre Incan empires or the way that hunter gatherer people intentionally crafted the landscape to better serve their needs Mann gave me a tantalizing glimpse into a complex beautiful pre Columbian world As someone who writes professionally in this area unabashed plug watch for God s Mercies Doubleday Canada in October 07 I have high praise for this title a long overdue assessment of native culture and civilization before and at contact with Europeans I m still reading it but I ve been impressed so farI ve now finished see below Anyone who enjoyed it should also consider Elaine Dewar s Bones which explores the archaeological controversy of how long people have been in the New World She wholeheartedly supports the a really really long time campMy only critiue of 1491 and it is minor is that the author I feel overstates the case that Europeans mainly English did not enjoy a military superiority over the natives that their powder weapons were ineffective This is a rather generous reading of native military capability The English army did away with the longbow in 1598 and for all their problems powder weapons were a clear advantage Frenchman Samuel de Champlain used just three haruebus to devastating effect against the Irouois Haudenosaunee in 1609 and in his trade and colonization monopoly secured in 1612 under the Prince de Cond the terms specifically forbid anyone to trade powder weapons with the natives under penalty of a 10000 livre fine and corporal punishment One of the key factors in European inability not to immediately conuer or eradicate native populations by force was the sheer lack of firepower They also needed them as trade partners These commercial ventures English and French in particular didn t have the full might of their states behind them in the early contact period Had England or France made up their mind to truly conuer these shores and their peoples they would have marched through them much like de Soto did in the southeastern US in the mid 16th century for good or for ill pretty well for ill But an idea the author does well to advance is the fact that coastal nations or tribes that made contact with the newcomers often came to decide that they should secure a strategic advantage and enlist the newcomers aid in fighting their own enemies It was a complicated time and 1491 is a worthy overview Having now finished I ll still recommend it For those interested in precontact cultures north of 49 as in half of North America the lack of 49 as in half of North America the lack material about French Canada is a little disappointing There s nothing about the much debated vanishing of the Irouoian speaking residents of the St Lawrence at Hochelaga and Stadacona who were there in large numbers in palisade villages when Cartier first visited in the 1530s but had vanished utterly were there in large numbers in palisade villages when Cartier first visited in the 1530s but had vanished utterly the time Champlain showed up in 1603 But that s nitpicky considering the enormous scope of this work Very well written Champlain showed up in 1603 But that s nitpicky considering the enormous scope of this work Very well written good mixture of factual evidence and narrative The main take home point here should be known to everyone especially Americans There is a reason why there was a period of 128 ears between Colombus landing and a permanent European settlement in North America Namely there were millions of Native Americans there who thought Europeans were dirty amusing creatures who had interesting objects but were not fit for being neighbors Attempted European settlers were continuously driven out When one tribe finally took pity on the English settlement of Plymouth it was only because a smallpox epidemic had killed vast numbers of the them off and they were concerned about being run over by their enemies who had not Attirance Criminelle Tome 1 yet suffered this fate It is likely that were it not for the outbreaks of smallpox preceding many of the first European scouts moving westward that America would have never been a country Oheah and concerning South America there is evidence that much possibly 70 80% of the forest is man made This is definitely a well researched eye opening book that will challenge the idea that Native Americans were a sparse people who had no effect on their environment and let things be on their own The only reason people think that most Native Americans were purely nomadic hunters was because the smallpox had killed off most of the urbanized settlements that reuired agriculture Fascinating exploration of what we know of the New World before Columbus arrived I knew pretty much nothing about the Incas the Mayans the Aztecs and all the other societies that actually were possibly BIGGER than Europe in 1492 and dwarfed it in centuries before It s also an interesting survey of these societies and their environments of how the Indians and the pristine environments are a bit of a myth The scope of the book covers so many different culture puts everything into a context I never imagined beforeThe author obviously loves what he does and relishes research and it definitely makes potentially dry material come to life Opened my eyes to a subject I knew nothing about so I highly recommend. Led man’s first feat of genetic engineering Indeed Indians were not living lightly on the land but were landscaping and manipulating their world in ways that we are only now beginning to understand Challenging and surprising this a transformative new look at a rich and fascinating world we only thought we kne.

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Em Mexica philosophy was as rich as medieval europe s is ludicrous especially given that such a huge volume of Aztec codices have been preserved and deciphered The Aztecs did some respectable philosophical work but Mann s exaggerations aside they didn t come close to rivaling the work done in ancient Greece to say nothing of the subseuent 2000 Notes sur la mlodie des choses years of philosophy in Europe with a nod towards Middle Eastern contributions as well that took place between the death of Aristotle and the discovery of the new world Today it may be possible to take a mesoamerican philosophy course in some university departments but there are very few if any lasting or novel contributions to the the broader discipline of philosophy to be found in Aztec or Mayan or Incan philosophy There s no shame in that it has been said that all philosophy is but a footnote to Plato So why feel the need to exaggerate and mislead readers by making politically correct assertions that have no basis in realityAlso the distinction the author draws between guilt and responsibility ie we should not feel guilty that Cortes introduced smallpox and wiped out 95% of american indians but we have some responsibility for this is way too underdeveloped to be taken seriously I don t necessarily think that the discussion is even necessary but it is not an uncommon discussion in US politics and Mann consciously decides to wade into these waters First he never defines we though it seems he means whites of european descent residing in the new world and maybe Europeans back in Europe who benefitted from mercantilismcolonialism It s not clear And then he never explains how responsibility can be justly divided among descendants how someone of say direct Cortez lineage might have a different level of responsibility than a descendant of an Irish family with no seafaring anscestors and no pedigree in the New World until the late 19th century And if they have the same responsibility then does a modern day Chinese or Indian immigrant to the new world also have some responsibility All unclear and the absence of even any contemplation of these points leaves the book s attempts at constructing a morality of EuropeanAmerican Indian interaction disappointingly hollow Mann decided the topic was worthy enough to merit some discussion it is unfortunate he failed to do the topic any justice You know in fourteen hundred and ninety two Columbus sailed the ocean blue So 1491 was a particularly interestingear for the inhabitants of the Americas This is a remarkably similar story to that told in Dark Emu It is almost as if everything I ve ever known about pre European settlement in Australia and the Americas has been well utter rubbish Which is than a little annoyingWhat is very interesting here is that we seem to have grossly under estimated both the population of the Americas prior to European arrival and also the extent of farming including farming in the basin a particularly interesting part of this book The author suggests that the local Indian populations in the effectively created the forest to meet human needs and that this was then able to support a much larger population than we would otherwise have estimated and one much advanced than we assume tooAll of this has conseuences and implications of course because we could and should learn a lot from peoples who have farmed the land for thousands of ears before we arrived and who did so in ways that appear to have been much sustainable than anything we have achieved since This book covers far too much in fact so much so that after a while my head was almost spinning We travel across both continents Sometimes there is so much detail involving the pre European arrival political struggles and murders that it pays to remember that if the Indians had invaded the UK at around this same time they d have come just after the War of the Roses You know what I m saying is that Europe was in no position to criticise other countries and their monarchies for their internecine murders and battles The thing that has shifted how I understand this history involves a kind of key provided by this book to understanding what happened Basically Europeans were filthy since we lived with lots of animals and so we brought horrible horrible diseases to the Americas The local populations had no defence against such diseases and also had a remarkably narrow gene pool are pools narrow Maybe it was a shallow pool Either way it seems that up to 95% #of the local populations were killed by diseases #the local populations were killed by diseases small pox We can hardly imagine what that would mean The debate still rages about whether the Europeans intentionally spread these diseases although another book I have read on this said that James the First referred to small pox as a gift from God so it wasn t as if we were particularly upset about the inferno that we allowed to sweep before us as we arrived in the New World What is clear is that not only did the population collapse entire civilisations were brought to their knees And as we arrived we often assumed that what we found was what had been with us completely unaware we were witnessing societies suffering under dire stress The author makes it very clear that what we were seeing was a grossly distorted vision of what had previously existed I ve never fully understood the implications of this Let s say for the sake of argument that some disease came to Melbourne where I live a city of about 5 million people and it wiped out 95% of everyone Obviously all of the normal things ou might expect to be going on in a city would come to a screaming halt You would be unlikely to be able to catch a tram for instance or buy milk at the local supermarket if 19 in every 20 people suddenly stopped living And the people left would be without nearly everyone they have known and loved stopped living And the people left would be without nearly everyone they have known and loved not particularly happy if God de vader en God de moeder you know what I mean But that would only be the beginning of the problems Let s say none of the animals died in this catastrophe The estimate is that 62% of households in Melbourne have pets and there are 20 dogs per 100 people which would mean all of a sudden there would be 20 dogs for every five people If their owners are dead then presumably many of these dogs would be pretty hungry and some of them would be out and about looking for food probably in packs Ifou arrived a ear or so after the catastrophe Melbourne would look like a pretty frightening place with lots of hungry and presumably angry dogs walking the streets You might wonder what the hell was the matter with these people that they had so many damn dogs and didn t even bother to look after themThis is effectively what is suggested to have happened with bison That is that the removal of humans from farm lands across the continent provided bison with an ideal situation to go through a population explosion And this then left the Europeans who arrived assuming the Indians spent all of their time hunting bison without ever seeming to diminish the population of them whereas the bison were actually just taking advantage of the Indian farms that were now no longer farms due to the Indians having died off due to disease There is a bit of Bill Bryson s A Walk in the Woods where he talks of the extinction of various types of birds that had swarmed in such profusion when Europeans arrived that the Europeans basically went nuts killing and eating them This is presented as proof of European disregard. E huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets and was larger than any contemporary European city Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized breeding process that it has been cal. .
This was like a coloring book of pre Pilgrim North America for me in that it filled in a lot of unanswered uestions and brilliantly illuminated some areas of my knowledge that were mere outlines It stays within the lines and makes my early attempts at coloring in the past look like spidery seizure induced scrawlingsBeing originally from New England I m well aware that there were inhabitants here long before the Europeans arrived Early on in school we were inundated with stories of Samoset and Suanto the first Native Americans to make contact with the Plymouth Colony pilgrims and how in 1621 they strolled into the transplanted Englishmen s village and a big party broke out thus began the tradition of Thanksgiving I was mistaught in a Massachusetts classroom where heritage and history are king so much was made of this We were led to believe the story by elementary schoolteachers who probably wholeheartedly believed it themselves What about the Virginia Colony of 1607 and their contact with the native inhabitants It failed so sweep it under the rug Something tells me this version of America s founding by Europeans was not the one being taught in Virginia at the timeNever was explained how the two natives could speak English from Englishmen fishing off of the Maine coast and in Suanto s case from abduction and internment for seven ears in England or anything that happened in the Americas prior to the pilgrims landing Oh sure there was talk of Incas and Mayans and their all important maize But the extent the sheer size of the native tribes clans and cosmopolitan societies of the Americas north and south and how Europe brought it all down upon their heads none of this was discussed Why Because even during the late 1970s and early 80s when the movement to turn the Native Americans into mystical caretakers of Mother Earth there was still a prejudicial sense of white is right prevalent at least in the neighborhood I grew up in The other reason is a plain lack of knowledge My simple teachers simply did not know They can t wholly be blamed The information wasn t readily available or flat out wasn t available School books were traditional and outdated The grey area material was swept under the rug Now there is less grey area material advances in technology and archaeological practices have greatly advanced our knowledge of the past in just a few short decades but there s still plenty of unknown patches of time in the western hemisphere In 1491 Mann does not shy away from them Having said that it should be noted that this is not just about North America No in fact time is spent on everything below it Through discovered texts and deciphered inscriptions there s just known about Mesoamerica than the other areas so es there are pages upon pages about those Incas and Mayans In general what I love about 1491 is that it doesn t take the Indians side or the Europeans It doesn t try to cast a glowing angelic light upon the native inhabitants to transform them into woodland spirits whose only concern was the preservation of the trees and the birds etc blah blah blah Earth Day is uaint and misguided but I digress nor does Mann attempt to attack or defend the actions of the Europeans All is of a statement of fact or if lacking concrete evidence a statement of possibility based on sound theorySure this distills oceans of scholarly study down to a manageable duck pond but it never tries to pretend it is doing otherwise Mann is no pretender to vaunted erudition He s a journalist who s done some research He s a guy who realized his own grade school education was lacking and when he found out the moldy stuff he was taught way back when was still being taught to his son he decided to do something about it I m glad for it See updated alternative reading recommendations belowWell I finally finished it There were some interesting factoids such as the theory that much of the rainforest was it There were some interesting factoids such as the theory that much of the rainforest was by humans but even then the data were not marshaled in a the data were not marshaled in a coherent fashion Over all the book was badly organized the chapter and section headings provided no clue to their purpose the text jumped wildly across continents and thousands of ears for no logical reason and technical terms were too often introduced but never defined I had to look up MFAC in the index to discover it meant Maritime Foundation of Andean Civilization By far the best part of the book were the aerial photographs that clearly showed the size and complexity of South America s ancient farms and cities The maps were useful as well but aides such as a pronunciation guide or a timeline were among the many missing elementsAnd it s not just the organization of the book that is a challenge the writing style is difficult as well One sentence goes on for 27 lines The author mixes metaphors with such abandon that I often despaired of untangling the meaning Peru is the cow catcher on the train of continental drift Leading South America s slow grinding march toward Australia its coastline hits the ocean floor and crumples up like a carpet shoved into a chair legI simply cannot fathom why so many people thought this book was so wonderful I will have to look elsewhere for a coherent analysis of this topic Updated RecommendationsFor an excellent analysis of some of the earliest evidence of human habitation in North America consider Settlement Of The Americas A New Prehistory it is scholarly as well as being much readable and interesting Timothy Egan s Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis is an interesting introduction to one of the most definitive chronicles of Native American cultures in North America Curtis entire multi volume original work is available online at this Northwestern University siteI have not read this one La vie sexuelle de Tintin yet but I hear good things about The Last Days of the Incas from my friends at the History Book ClubThe 1491 factoid about the rainforests having been heavily cultivated for extended periods of time seems likely to be correct See this fascinating article about the rainforest s maroon people from National Geographic In brief I felt this was an adeuate often fascinating summary of human habitation of the Americas prior to the arrival of Europeans as understood by present day historians and scientists I was happy to see that Mann highlighted controversial areas without simply adopting one side of any given controversy and in general it seemed like a balanced well researched book That said there were numerous peccadillosMann starts with the basic assertion that the West s primary mistake in our conception of American Indians is that we have generally seen them as unchanging features in a primeval wilderness This he argues is dehumanizing regardless of whetherou prefer to prefix savage with noble because a people incapable of change seems incapable of will of thought of ingenuityHe attempts to dismantle this notion by presenting research supporting The survey of current thinking on the population of the americas via that Beringia land bridge and the subseuent summary of the evolutions of early american society is interestingBut the repeated comparisons between american society and eurasian society are really fraught and often belabored The comparisons between the two hemisphere s agriculture and domesticable animals are fine but the assertion that Aztec apparently it s politically correct to call th. In this groundbreaking work of science history and archaeology Charles C Mann radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school the pre Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather there wer. .
1491 New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus