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1491

106 ratings

Summary

A groundbreaking study that radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans in 1492. Traditionally, Americans learned in school that the ancestors of the people who inhabited the Western Hemisphere at the time of Columbus' landing had crossed the Bering Strait 12,000 years ago; existed mainly in small nomadic bands; and lived so lightly on the land that the Americas were, for all practical purposes, still a vast wilderness. But as Charles C. Mann now makes clear, archaeologists and anthropologists have spent the last 30 years proving these and many other long-held assumptions wrong. In a book that startles and persuades, Mann reveals how a new generation of researchers equipped with novel scientific techniques came to previously unheard-of conclusions. Among them: In 1491 there were probably more people living in the Americas than in Europe. Certain cities - such as Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital - were far greater in population than any contemporary European city. Furthermore, Tenochtitlán, unlike any capital in Europe at that time, had running water, beautiful botanical gardens, and immaculately clean streets. The earliest cities in the Western Hemisphere were thriving before the Egyptians built the great pyramids. Pre-Columbian Indians in Mexico developed corn by a breeding process so sophisticated that the journal Science recently described it as "man's first, and perhaps the greatest, feat of genetic engineering". Amazonian Indians learned how to farm the rain forest without destroying it - a process scientists are studying today in the hope of regaining this lost knowledge. Native Americans transformed their land so completely that Europeans arrived in a hemisphere already massively "landscaped" by human beings. Mann sheds clarifying light on the methods used to arrive at these new visions of the pre-Columbian Americas and how they have affected our understanding of our history and our thinking about the environment. His book is an exciting and learned account of scientific inquiry and revelation.

©2016 Charles C. Mann (P)2016 Random House Audio

Category: History, Americas
Length: 16 hrs and 17 mins
Available on Audible
Cover art for 1493

1493

29 ratings

Summary

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 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 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. 

©2011 Charles C. Mann (P)2011 Random House Audio

Narrator: Robertson Dean
Length: 17 hrs and 46 mins
Available on Audible
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The Wizard and the Prophet

17 ratings

Summary

From the best-selling, award-winning author of 1491 and 1493 - an incisive portrait of the two little-known 20th-century scientists, Norman Borlaug and William Vogt, whose diametrically opposed views shaped our ideas about the environment, laying the groundwork for how people in the 21st century will choose to live in tomorrow's world.

In 40 years, Earth's population will reach 10 billion. Can our world support that? What kind of world will it be? Those answering these questions generally fall into two deeply divided groups - Wizards and Prophets, as Charles Mann calls them in this balanced, authoritative, nonpolemical new book. The Prophets, he explains, follow William Vogt, a founding environmentalist who believed that in using more than our planet has to give, our prosperity will lead us to ruin. Cut back! was his mantra. Otherwise everyone will lose! The Wizards are the heirs of Norman Borlaug, whose research, in effect, wrangled the world in service to our species to produce modern high-yield crops that then saved millions from starvation. Innovate! was Borlaug's cry. Only in that way can everyone win! Mann delves into these diverging viewpoints to assess the four great challenges humanity faces - food, water, energy, climate change - grounding each in historical context and weighing the options for the future. With our civilization on the line, the author's insightful analysis is an essential addition to the urgent conversation about how our children will fare on an increasingly crowded Earth.

©2018 Charles C. Mann (P)2018 Random House Audio

Narrator: Bronson Pinchot
Length: 18 hrs and 56 mins
Available on Audible
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Before Columbus

1 rating

Summary

A companion book for young listeners based on 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, the groundbreaking best seller by Charles C. Mann.

©2009 Charles C. Mann and Downtown Bookworks Inc. (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

Length: 3 hrs and 45 mins
Available on Audible
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Q&A

Summary

An interview recorded on an iPhone. A police interrogation tape. An FBI wire. At the center of them all is a writer researching a legal thriller...or is he? And somewhere within those recordings is the truth about a murder trial and a web of lies stretching back three decades. Written by Ben H. Winters, the best-selling author of Underground Airlines, The Last Policeman, and the Audible Original Inside Jobs, Q&A is a tantalizing puzzle and a gripping tale of obsession and revenge. Because, you can never really know the truth of a conversation - even when it's all on tape. The full-cast production of Q&A stars: John Zdrojeski as the Young Man Robert Creighton as Lou Douglas Jay Snyder as Detective Murphy Nicole Lewis as Detective Garcia Kathryn Kates as Judge Goldman Michael Braun as Fannon Elizabeth Evans as Mary-Ellen 

©2020 Ben H. Winters (P)2020 Audible Originals, LLC.

Available on Audible