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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

av Charles C. Mann

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MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,771486,884 (4.05)59
"From the author of 1491--the best-selling study of the pre-Columbian Americas--a deeply engaging new history that explores 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 totally different suites of plants and animals. Columbus's voyages brought them back together--and marked the beginning of an extraordinary exchange of flora and fauna between Eurasia and the Americas. As Charles Mann shows, this global ecological tumult--the "Columbian Exchange"--underlies much of subsequent human history. Presenting the latest generation of research by scientists, Mann shows how the creation of this worldwide network of exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa, and for two centuries made Manila and Mexico City-- where Asia, Europe, and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted--the center of the world. In 1493, Charles Mann gives us an eye-opening scientific interpretation of our past, unequaled in its authority and fascination"--… (mer)
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“Columbus’s voyage did not mark the discovery of a new world, but its creation.” So claims Charles Mann in his impressive 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. After reading the book, I can’t help but agree.

Mann builds on the work of scholars like Alfred Crosby, who posited that “[a]fter Columbus, ecosystems that had been separate for eons suddenly met and mixed in a process” he called “the Columbian Exchange.” While being “neither fully controlled nor understood by its participants,” the exchange “took corn (maize) to Africa and sweet potatoes to East Asia, horses and apples to the Americas, and rhubarb and eucalyptus to Europe—and also swapped about a host of less-familiar organisms like insects, grasses, bacteria, and viruses.” It also moved people all around the globe.

Sound like something you’ve heard before? The core argument may not be new, but the examples Mann uses to bolster his take on it are fascinating.

For instance, when revisiting the effects of European diseases on Native Americans (which he examined at length in 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus), Mann makes the case that the Columbian Exchange may have temporarily helped cause “today’s climate change in reverse.” Specifically, the Little Ice Age of 1550-1750 (or so), which brought hard winters, late springs, and bad harvests to the Northern Hemisphere, might have been a secondary consequence of the mass death of Native Americans: prior to Europeans’ arrival, Native Americans used fire to shape their surroundings, regularly burning forests on such a scale that for “weeks on end, smoke from Indian bonfires shrouded Florida, California, and the Great Plains.” But after smallpox and other plagues took their devastating toll, the fires diminished, resulting in less CO2 in the atmosphere, more trees to reduce the CO2 that remained, and a colder climate.

Then there’s the role malaria (and to a lesser degree, yellow fever) likely played in the rise of the Atlantic slave trade. This other “Old World” disease was no friendlier to Native Americans, but it flourished in the warmer areas of the Americas so virulently that European colonists died there in droves. But Africans’ inherited and acquired resistances to the illness meant that, “biologically speaking, they were fitter, which is another way of saying that in these places they were—loaded words!—genetically superior.” Sadly, Africans’ immunity “became a wellspring for their enslavement,” since for (unscrupulous) Europeans “the economic logic was hard to ignore. If they wanted to grow tobacco, rice, or sugar, they were better off using African slaves than European indentured servants or Indian slaves.” Not coincidentally, the “Mason-Dixon line roughly split the East Coast into two zones, one in which falciparum malaria was an endemic threat, and one in which it was not.”

And that’s just for starters: 1493 goes on to delve into the Galleon Trade and chart how Spanish silver from the brutal mining town of Potosí, Bolivia knit the world together like never before, financing wars in Europe and fueling a debilitating currency crisis in China, long the world’s largest economy. Next, Mann tracks the impact of crop migrations (like the introduction of Andean potatoes into Europe), the birth of the “agro-industrial complex,” the race for Amazonian rubber, and finally the “extraordinary cultural mix that slavery inadvertently promoted.”

Mann’s writing is excellent, and the book is stuffed with devastating details, such as the tidbit that, when officials at the Peruvian mine of Huancavelica dug up the graves of their conscripted Native American workers in 1605, they found that the miners’ corpses left behind puddles of inhaled mercury. But while Mann argues in his prologue that “globalization brought both enormous economic gains and ecological and social tumult that threatened to offset those gains,” and later that “the huge benefits of moving species outweigh the huge harms,” his emphasis is decidedly on the negative aspects. In short, 1493 isn’t—and doesn’t pretend to be—a comprehensive account of the roots of the modern world.

It’s just a damn good one.

(For more reviews like this one, see www.nickwisseman.com) ( )
  nickwisseman | Oct 29, 2020 |
https://nwhyte.livejournal.com/3362162.html

I hugely enjoyed the same author's 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus when I read it a couple of years ago, and my kind spouse bought me the sequel for Christmas. It's not quite as good, but it is still very good. The theme is the massive exchange (mainly biological, but also economic and cultural) that was set in motion by the opening up of commerce and communication across the Atlantic (and, soon after, the Pacific). I had not realized, for instance, that there were no earthworms in the Americas before European settlement. The roles of potatoes, rubber, tobacco and sugar cane in early and later phases of globalisation are deeply explored. So is the explosion of South American silver onto world markets in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which via Spain and Portugal had a massive and long-lasting effect on the economy of China. Particularly right now, it's worth remembering that China has been plugged into the global economy for a very long time indeed. Mann also has some interesting reflections on how chattel slavery evolved in the Americas from existing patterns of indenture from Europe and slavery in Africa, and there is a lot of fascinating material on the societies of freed an escaped slaves that developed on the margins of European settlement.

Lots of interesting stuff here, and if it's not quite up to the mark of the previous volume, that was a very high mark to keep to. ( )
  nwhyte | Apr 2, 2020 |
Fascinating look at how the world changed after Columbus. Surprisingly, there is a lot here about China, which makes sense considering that's where the early explorers were all headed. ( )
  richardSprague | Mar 22, 2020 |
(see copy 1)
  librisissimo | Jan 28, 2020 |
Fantastic historically and rhetorically. Very clear writing, with good use of new discoveries and revised analysis of old ones.

If you think you know the history of the world (before and after Columbus sails across the Atlantic), think again. ( )
  librisissimo | Nov 25, 2019 |
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» Lägg till fler författare (4 möjliga)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Charles C. Mannprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Dean, RobertsonBerättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Lazzari, CarlaÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Voorzanger, BartÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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"From the author of 1491--the best-selling study of the pre-Columbian Americas--a deeply engaging new history that explores 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 totally different suites of plants and animals. Columbus's voyages brought them back together--and marked the beginning of an extraordinary exchange of flora and fauna between Eurasia and the Americas. As Charles Mann shows, this global ecological tumult--the "Columbian Exchange"--underlies much of subsequent human history. Presenting the latest generation of research by scientists, Mann shows how the creation of this worldwide network of exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa, and for two centuries made Manila and Mexico City-- where Asia, Europe, and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted--the center of the world. In 1493, Charles Mann gives us an eye-opening scientific interpretation of our past, unequaled in its authority and fascination"--

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