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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  11,847 Ratings  ·  1,119 Reviews
Over 200 million years ago, geological forces split apart the continents. They developed different suites of flora & fauna. When Columbus came to the Americas, he ended that separation. Driven by the goal of establishing trade with China, he accidentally set off an ecological convulsion as European vessels carried thousands of species to new environs.

The Columbian Exch
Hardcover, 557 pages
Published August 9th 2011 by Alfred A. Knopf (NY) (first published 2011)
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Diana Cramer The book is not one of those "A year of..." books... to trace the scope of the Columbian Exchange, it necessarily covers events and figures beyond…moreThe book is not one of those "A year of..." books... to trace the scope of the Columbian Exchange, it necessarily covers events and figures beyond *just* 1493.
Captain John Smith does figure in this book because of the Colony of Virginia, his role in the establishment of Jamestown (which is controversial), and among other things, because treatment of John Smith and other colonial adventurers needs to be counterbalanced. Particularly the idea of the white colonizer coming to a thinly-populated wilderness to subdue it.
Highly recommend that you read the book and find out!(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Chatty Bengal yes go to the library

Community Reviews

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Mal Warwick
Aug 28, 2011 Mal Warwick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Chances are, you’re aware that the potato originated in Peru and smallpox in Africa, and that both species crossed the Atlantic shortly after Columbus. You probably know, too, that the potato later became a staple in many European countries and that smallpox decimated the native population of the Americas. However, what you may not know is how profound was the impact on the course of history of the exchange of animals, plants, minerals, and microorganisms from the Old World to and from the New.

Jason Koivu
Mar 24, 2013 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
1493 is all over the place...and that's a good thing.

Charles C. Mann's follow up to his spectacular 1491 look at the pre-Columbian Americas is quite an admirable undertaking. Here he looks at the consequences of Columbus's voyages to the Americas. For better and/or for worse they had far reaching affects, especially biologically. Mann's premise seems to state that Columbus was not a morally good man, but he should be celebrated as bringing about the world's biological homogenization. Though thi
Tom Lichtenberg
Dec 25, 2011 Tom Lichtenberg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Human history no longer belongs to the twin poles of Eurocentricism, which either praise or damn European superiority or dominance, respectively. One consequence of recent globalization and multiculturalism is a redress of the balance of the human story, one which assigns both place and respect (and appropriate blame) to all of the civilizations of size in this world. It reminds us that not only Europeans engaged in the African slave trade, that not only Europeans conquered and settled and trade ...more
Ana Mardoll
Dec 12, 2012 Ana Mardoll rated it it was ok
Shelves: ana-reviewed
1493 / 978-0307265722

I really enjoyed Charles Mann's 1491, but after struggling to get through 1493, I'm afraid to re-read the first and find that my opinion may now be reversed.

1491 was for me a wonderfully compiled and comprehensive look at the Americas before Columbus arrived and everything was inexorably changed. I appreciated the information presented in the book, as well as the manner in which it was presented -- I was strongly affected by Mann's tone with that volume and how he seemed to
Remember Fourth Grade? Sister Mary Anne taught us to singsong "Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred and ninety two." Then we skipped to Jamestown in 1607. Did you ever get the feeling that we had missed a lot of something somewhere? Well, boys and girls, we surely did! Charles C. Mann has given us a marvelous account of the events that occurred that directly relate to what he calls the Columbian exchange. Now most of us have a vague idea that the invasive European powers brought so ...more
1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created explores what happened when the New World and Old World came into contact from an ecological, biological, and economic perspective. The result is history not as made by kings and queens and generals, but by the potato, tobacco, the spice trade, and infectious disease. Take this, for instance: West Africans have an inherited immunity to malaria, the disease that beset early colonists and their indentured servants and then the native people of the Am ...more
Jul 28, 2011 Susan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: History buffs
Absolutely fascinating. Worms and parasites, slaves and masters, greed and commerce, tobacco and guano – all have radically shaped today's world, and continue to do so. The Columbian Exchange united, both for better and for worse, this earth in ways that Columbus could never have dreamed.

The author's writing is well organized, researched, illustrated, and annotated. Given that, it still could have been boring but it wasn't. Charles Mann kept me entertained and interested through every word, rema
Dec 12, 2013 Richard rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Richard by: Jon Abendschein
How do you feel about history books that subvert your prior beliefs? Because there are a few very good ones out there. 1493, by Charles Mann, is one of them. His earlier best-selling 1491 probably is as well, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet.

Briefly, 1493 examines how the world changed due to, and very soon after, the initial contact between the Americas and the rest of the world in 1492. The term “Columbian Exchange” reminds us that the change was bidirectional. We are all familiar w
Chungsoo Lee
Nov 30, 2012 Chungsoo Lee rated it it was amazing
The subtitle is noteworthy: "Uncovering the New World Columbus Created," not "Discovered." In arriving at the New World, Charles C. Mann proposes, Columbus created a new world of globalization and modernization. The author carries the readers through a breathtaking geological scope and time span stretching from Spain, England, Americans (north and south), Africa, China, and Philippines and from the 15th through 21st centuries in a truly global and cosmic scale, providing an account of trade, dis ...more
Nov 24, 2011 David rated it it was amazing
This fascinating, authoritative book describes the "Columbian Exchange" after Columbus' "discovery" of the Americas. The book describes the exchange of people, products, plants, animals, and micro-organisms between the Americas and the rest of the world. Much of the book discusses the growth and trade of tobacco, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, silver, sugar, slaves, mosquitoes, smallpox, guano and rubber. Charles Mann emphasizes the unintended consequences of this trade.

The book is peppered with int
Most elementary school children today are taught the basic gist of what is now known as the 'Columbian exchange' - the exchange of goods, people, and trading routes between Europe, Africa, and the American colonies of the New World. Most often, this is depicted as a neat triangle, and only one good being sent across the trading route.

Apart from being a simplification, this vastly understates the importance of this grand exchange. We can say, without any fear of exaggeration, that the course of w
Jun 24, 2011 Alex rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
Maybe not quite as good as 1491? But probably just because I was more interested in the subject matter there. Once again, Mann has written a kickass book. I really dig this guy.
Jun 18, 2011 Andres rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs
In 1491 Mann explored the newest findings about what the Americas were actually like before the "Old World" set foot on it (as opposed to the dated perceptions that we can't seem to easily shake loose). Now Mann explores how the world reacted, and was affected, by this meeting.

I can't even begin to summarize what information is covered here, but here is a list of things that are discussed: potatoes, tomatoes, tobacco, sugar, rubber, gum, rum, Madeira, mosquitoes, malaria, yellow fever, smallpox,
Well written and mind expanding tour of the economic and ecological changes that were set in motion in the centuries after Columbus' landing in the New World. The interconnectedness of the world is elucidated in Mann's dizzying excursions to the European colonies in the Americas and Caribbean, Africa, and China.

The roots of globalization are to be found in the so-called "Columbian Exchange", the transfer of peoples, plants, domesticated animals, agricultural practices, and diseases between cont
Nick Wisseman
Nov 17, 2016 Nick Wisseman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
“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,”
Feb 23, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! For every sentence I read in it, author Charles C. Mann read hundreds, and he has the bibliography to prove it.

I loved it for two reasons: I love the sweeping overview of human *everything* that Mann provides: foods, migration, slavery, the global trade that preceded--in fact, led to--Columbus's discovery of the New World. And I loved it because it told me so much I didn't know: how the discovery of the potato, in the New World, saved the population of Europe from, if not exactl
May 24, 2016 Max rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-history
Mann documents the Columbian Exchange, the beginning of globalization. Fifteenth century Europe, desirous of Chinese silk and porcelain, was blocked to the east by hostile Muslim countries. Columbus embarked to find a western route. Within 100 years global trade with China and the Americas was underway and the Columbian Exchange was firmly established. Silver mined in Bolivia by slaves brought in from Africa was shipped to China for silk and porcelain shipped to Spain via Mexico and Panama. Anot ...more
Dey Martin
May 06, 2017 Dey Martin rated it it was amazing
A friend gave me this to read after finding 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus on my book shelf that I just read. She said I would be one of only a few to read them back to back.

It is about how the want of silver, sugar and potatoes resulted in today's homogenocene. I oversimplify. I figure this has been going on since prehistoric times. Man throughout his multi-millennial migratory trek took seeds, cuttings and microbes and probably even fire (technology) along to change and
Maria Kramer
What a fascinating follow-up to "1491"! This book deals with some of the changes that the "discovery" of the Americas wrought on the world stage - not just in Europe, but also in Asia and Africa. Different chapters focus on different topics, such as malaria, the potato, or silver. Very interesting, and an under-explored area of history!
Aug 31, 2011 M rated it really liked it
I'm sure this is less than a perfect picture of all the nuanced history involved -- it wouldn't be pop history if it weren't. But in that Jared Diamond kind of mold, this is quite a book.

The argument runs: Columbus may not have had any idea what he was doing, but he's still the genesis of an entirely changed world -- a world connected all the way round, economically and (and here's the kicker) therefore biologically. You make a world market, you remake Pangaea, extremely messily.

Each chapter ju
Gary Brecht
Dec 09, 2011 Gary Brecht rated it really liked it
Like his previous work, 1491, the author uses Christopher Columbus’s European discovery of the New World as a pivotal point in history; in this case, what changes occurred to our world in the wake of this momentous discovery? The task of deciding which threads of history are worth writing about is no less daunting than the act of retracing each significant event that will elucidate and enhance his story. By organizing his history into four main categories Mann is able to get a hold of this unwie ...more
Mar 19, 2012 Becky rated it really liked it
So, so glad I was able to get my hands on this during the summer. I read the predecessor, 1491, because Mann came to Wilmington as the Honors Spring Speaker. This book seemed less dry than 1491 but also less mind blowing. Perhaps this was a result of hearing Mann's speech in which he mostly talked about 1493. Perhaps this was a result of taking AP Euro in high school. I knew a lot of what the book talked about based on Mann's speech, though the details he had not included were still interesting. ...more
Oct 22, 2016 Maitrey rated it it was amazing
This was great engaging writing from an author I really admire. 1493 gives a fantastic overview of the kind of changes the globe has seen after Columbus landed in the New World and started what would be called the Columbian Exchange.

Boy can Mann can weave a narrative, like how his grandfather's decision to buy a Philippine mahogany dining table might have led to ecological catastrophe by introducing invasive earthworms into the Philippines that destroyed the rice field terraces. Or how Potosi in
Sep 26, 2011 Observations rated it it was amazing
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In Fleshed Out Tweets, Thoughtful- Items I'd Like you to Read on September 26, 2011 at 10:48 am
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Anyone who has ever received one of my tweets or is in my FB circle this week is aware that I am obsessing about “1493“ by Charles Mann.

His prior book, that I read, “1491“ describes the Western Hemisphere just prior to interaction with Europeans. The gist of 1491 is that European technology and numbers were insufficient to conque
Apr 15, 2012 Caroline rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed Mann's other book on this general topic, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, so I was quite keen to read this one. 1491 charted the history of America before Columbus' arrival and the dramatic changes that occured as a result. 1493 is in effect an expansion on a theory expounded in 1491, what is known as the Columbian Exchange. Whilst 1491 dwelt almost solely on the impact of Columbus' discovery of the America on the original inhabitants, 1493takes a globa ...more
Jul 13, 2013 Peter rated it really liked it
This is a rambling, fascinating analysis of the origins of globalization and what Mann calls the "homogenocene," the homogenization of ecologies around the world since Columbus "discovered" the New World, and malaria was exchanged for potatoes, to oversimplify just a tad. Mann offers a balanced account of the benefit of this globalization that has been going on for centuries, and which if we have ever eaten tomatoes or corn, for example, we have benefited from. But he's far from blind to its oft ...more
Alan Kaplan
Dec 08, 2011 Alan Kaplan rated it really liked it
Excellent book by the author of 1491. Everything in the world changed with Columbus's discovery of the America's. Globalization did not begin today or in the last 100 years. Globalization began immediately when Columbus stepped food on Hispaniola. The Americas were filled with cultures and innumerable people. Globalization led to the import of measles, small pox, and ever malaria. Defenseless natives fell quickly to these invisible invaders.
Potatoes, native to the Americas, were exported all ove
Donna Jo Atwood
Sep 28, 2011 Donna Jo Atwood rated it really liked it
The older I get the more I understand the inter-connectedness of history. Mann, using a huge variety of sources, pulls together the way Columbus's "discovery" of the New World set in motion the way our world is connected today, from ecology, through food (can you say pizza?), slavery, and disease, to economics and political processes.

I really liked this book, especially since it didn't just focus on the Europe to South America angle, but brought in the thriving trade with China. Mann admits that
Erik Graff
Oct 09, 2012 Erik Graff rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Tom Miley
Shelves: history
This book is only in part a continuation of 1491's description of the Americas before Columbus. Spanning the period from then to the present, it is in part a history of biological exchange, in part a history of trade and, in repeated excurses, in part a history of the globalization of slavery. As regards the latter, most notable is how Mann makes slaves, particularly black slaves, the agents of their own--and the Americas'--history.
Apr 10, 2014 Kaethe rated it it was amazing
A brilliant synthesis of history on the Colombian exchange. I'm always embarrassed when I discover great gaps in my knowledge like: how did I not know why the US wanted the Philippines?

Library copy.
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Badass Book Club PDX: 1493: Comments and Reflections 1 7 Oct 25, 2015 02:10PM  
  • The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675
  • The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies
  • The Last Days of the Incas
  • Columbus: The Four Voyages
  • The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean
  • Conquistador: Hernán Cortés, King Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs
  • A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War
  • 1861: The Civil War Awakening
  • Europe Between the Oceans: 9000 BC-AD 1000
  • City of Fortune: How Venice Won and Lost a Naval Empire
  • The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth, and the Epic Story of the Map That Gave America Its Name
  • Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788
  • Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World
  • The Conquest of the Incas
  • Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (America: A Cultural History, Vol. I)
  • The Middle Sea: A History of the Mediterranean
  • Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America
  • A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World
Charles C. Mann is a correspondent for Science and The Atlantic Monthly, and has cowritten four previous books including Noah’s Choice: The Future of Endangered Species and The Second Creation . A three-time National Magazine Award finalist, he has won awards from the American Bar Association, the Margaret Sanger Foundation, the American Institute of Physics, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, ...more
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