Charles C. Mann, a correspondent for The Atlantic, Science, and Wired, has written for Fortune, The New York Times, Smithsonian, Technology Review, Vanity Fair, and The Washington Post, as well as for the TV network HBO and the series Law & Order. A three-time National Magazine Award finalist, he is the recipient of writing awards from the American Bar Association, the American Institute of Physics, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Lannan Foundation. His 1491 won the National Academies Communication Award for the best book of the year. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.
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. Agent, Rick Balkin. 40,000 first printing. (Aug. 12) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A correspondent for Science and Atlantic Monthly, Mann reenvisions pre-Columbian America, offering evidence for a larger population and more sophisticated agricultural methods than we had imagined. With an eight-city tour. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"A journalistic masterpiece."
--The New York Review of Books
"Marvelous. . . . A sweeping portrait of human life in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus. . . . A remarkably engaging writer."
--The New York Times Book Review
"Fascinating. . . . A landmark of a book that drops ingrained images of colonial American into the dustbin, one after the other."
--The Boston Globe
"A ripping, man-on-the-ground tour of a world most of us barely intuit. . . . An exhilarating shift in perspective. . . . 1491 erases our myth of a wilderness Eden. It replaces that fallacy with evidence of a different genesis, exciting and closer to true."
--The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Mann tells a powerful, provocative and important story. . . . 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."
--The Washington Post Book World
"Engagingly written and utterly absorbing. . . . Part detective story, part epic and part tragedy."
--The Miami Herald
"Provocative. . . . A Jared Diamond-like volley that challenges prevailing thinking about global development. Mann has chronicled an important shift in our vision of world development, one out young children could end up studying in their text books when they reach junior high."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"Marvelous. . . . A revelation. . . . Our concept of pure wilderness untouched by grubby human hands must now be jettisoned."
--The New York Sun
"Monumental. . . . Mann slips in so many fresh, new interpretations of American history that it all adds up to a deeply subversive work."
"Concise and brilliantly entertaining. . . . Reminiscent of John McPhee's eloquence with scientific detail."
--Los Angeles Times