Uncovering the New World Columbus Created
Charles C. Mann
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From the author of 1491—the best-selling study of the pre-Columbian Americas—a deeply engaging new history of the most momentous biological event since the death of the dinosaurs.
More than 200 million years ago, geological forces split apart the continents. Isolated from each other, the two halves of the world developed radically different suites of plants and animals. When Christopher Columbus set foot in the Americas, he ended that separation at a stroke. Driven by the economic goal of establishing trade with China, he accidentally set off an ecological convulsion as European vessels carried thousands of species to new homes across the oceans.
The Columbian Exchange, as researchers call it, is the reason there are tomatoes in Italy, oranges in Florida, chocolates in Switzerland, and chili peppers in Thailand. More important, creatures the colonists knew nothing about hitched along for the ride. Earthworms, mosquitoes, and cockroaches; honeybees, dandelions, and African grasses; bacteria, fungi, and viruses; rats of every description—all of them rushed like eager tourists into lands that had never seen their like before, changing lives and landscapes across the planet.
Eight decades after Columbus, a Spaniard named Legazpi succeeded where Columbus had failed. He sailed west to establish continual trade with China, then the richest, most powerful country in the world. In Manila, a city Legazpi founded, silver from the Americas, mined by African and Indian slaves, was sold to Asians in return for silk for Europeans. It was the first time that goods and people from every corner of the globe were connected in a single worldwide exchange. Much as Columbus created a new world biologically, Legazpi and the Spanish empire he served created a new world economically.
As Charles C. Mann shows, the Columbian Exchange underlies much of subsequent human history. Presenting the latest research by ecologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians, Mann shows how the creation of this worldwide network of ecological and economic exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa, and for two centuries made Mexico City—where Asia, Europe, and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted—the center of the world. In such encounters, he uncovers the germ of today’s fiercest political disputes, from immigration to trade policy to culture wars.
In 1493, Charles Mann gives us an eye-opening scientific interpretation of our past, unequaled in its authority and fascination.
From the Hardcover edition.
Publishers Weekly Review
© Publishers Weekly
A new view of the story of the Americas and their impact on the world
I have read this book and it's companion 1491. I have an undergraduate degree in history. I read history and biography as my 'relaxing' reading even though my advanced degrees are in theology. I must say these two books have changed how I view the pre- and post-Columbian worlds. This is not the way I learned history in school more than 50 years ago.
Definitely Reading for High School Students
The best book ever written on the Columbian exchange.
A significant book for High School and College students.
A rewriting of all American History books should occur as well as discussion that has far-reaching implications concerning slavery ,formal state apologies and the concept of learning from the past in order to create a better future for all of humankind.
Liked 1493 A Lot!
I think of myself as someone who's somewhat knowledgeable about 16th and 17th century European and Americas history, but I learned many new things from Charles Mann's 1493. Highly recommended.