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1493: Uncovering The New World Columbus Created (2011)

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (2011)

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4.03 of 5 Votes: 5
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0307265722 (ISBN13: 9780307265722)
Alfred A. Knopf (NY)

About book 1493: Uncovering The New World Columbus Created (2011)

Mann's "1493" is a fine follow-on to his earlier "1491", which looked at the current state of knowledge about what the Americas and their native societies looked like on the eve of European arrival. "1493" draws on Alfred Crosby's "Ecological Imperialism" to examine what's now called the "Columbian Exchange", the exchanges of plants, microbes, wealth, and populations that were triggered by the European arrival in the New World--- a story about rubber, silver, tobacco, sweet potatoes, corn, slaves, and trade that's a fine introduction to global economic history in the period 1500-1900. Mann explains how Chinese merchants got to 16th-c. Mexico, and how Muslim horsemen from western Africa ended up as mercenary cavalry in Argentina. He follows the rise and fall of the Brazilian rubber trade, watches how the potato supported Chinese population growth under the late Ming, and notes how the differences between variants of malaria helped cement plantation slavery in the American South. "1493" tries to cover a vast amount of territory, and while Mann is sometimes rushed, there's an extensive bibliography that should allow readers to go deeper into topics that Mann can only cover in a few paragraphs. Despite the limitations of space, this is a fine account of the flows of trade and people that grew out of the European arrival in the Americans, and a well-written introduction to global history. Revised everything I had been taught about the history of the New World so completely that I have to worry "is this a pop myth-buster or real history?" Took the book on a plane trip (where I usually read thrillers) planning a quick dip but stayed engrossed the whole trip and praised the book to others. My brother in law gave this book and the companion, 1491, to my wife. I found 1493 more convincing because it had more documentation of post-Columbus commerce and a more worldwide span.

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