This is an important book. Mann presents such a massive amount of new material that it represents an absolute return to square-one for Western Hemisphere studies. Easy to understand, even charming, 1491 is the beginning of what we might know about the past. – Picked by Gent, City Lights Books
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 1492.
Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. From the astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, which had running water, immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city, to the Mexican corn that was so carefully created in a specialized breeding process that it has been called man’s first feat of genetic engineering, 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 knew.