Sandy D.'s Reviews > 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

1493 by Charles C. Mann
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This is a massive but not overly academic book (not jargon heavy at all!) that covers the birth of the modern world - the globalization that happened after the "discovery" of the New World - culturally, economically, and environmentally.

Mann's research is amazing. And I've had enough rather specialized education in some of the areas he describes (like colonial Jamestown and 16-17th c. Mexico) to appreciate the depth of Mann's work.

But the writing style - which makes complex ideas (even stuff I'm not at all interested in, like 16th c. Chinese economy and politics) accessible - is what really blew me away.

In short, this was a perfect storm of ideas, research, and execution. This is the kind of thing that Michael Pollan did for food in "Omnivore's Dilemma", but for history, especially environmental history. If you have any interest at all in those topics, I can't recommend this highly enough. I learned an amazing amount about tobacco, rubber, guano, potatoes, mosquitoes, malaria, yellow fever, slavery, race and class in Latin America, Chinese pirates, silver, and Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors. Which all seems rather scattered, but Mann shows just how it's all connected and *very* relevant to our world today.

I think this book will probably win some awards this year. If it doesn't, it definitely should.
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