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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  16,418 ratings  ·  1,433 reviews
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. Wh
Hardcover, 557 pages
Published August 9th 2011 by Alfred A. Knopf (NY)
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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 *ju…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

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Mal Warwick
Aug 28, 2011 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 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 recognized as bringing about the world's biological homogenization. Though thi
Tom Lichtenberg
Dec 25, 2011 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 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
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
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
Nov 24, 2011 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
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Both this and 1491 have given me a really vivid portrayal of the Americas before and after Columbus set sail and the world he inadvertently created.
Chungsoo Lee
Nov 30, 2012 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
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
Susan (aka Just My Op)
Jul 28, 2011 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 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 famili
Jun 24, 2011 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. ...more
Jun 18, 2011 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,
May 24, 2016 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
Nick Wisseman
Nov 17, 2016 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,”
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fic, history
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
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eco
Charles C. Mann's 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created interprets contact as creating a new period in history, the Homogenocene. Combining ecology, epidemiology, economics, and geographic history, Mann shows what people did and what they suffered after encountering people, plants, and pests from other continents.

The Columbian Exchange offered many benefits, such as increasing trade to allow silver into currency strapped China and silk into Europe. But it also offered catastrophes, suc
Lis Carey
Oct 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the follow-up to Mann's excellent 1491, and it's every bit as excellent. In this book, Mann creates a rich and detailed picture of the world after Columbus, from the first few years of Spanish-Indian interaction through the complex effects of globalization in the contemporary world.

He starts, for reasons that soon become clear, with his own garden, and his introduction to heritage tomatoes. Tomato varieties, differing widely in size, appearance, and color, now come from all over the worl
Feb 23, 2012 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
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! ...more
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Overflowing with new perspectives on colonization, attempts to Christianize indigenous American populations, slavery & new world economies, all tied to the Columbian exchange of goods, people, and diseases
There is so much worth discussing about this very fascinating book, but lately I don't have the time or energy to do it any justice as I would have in my reviews from years past. So suffice to say that is an excellent companion piece to his book 1491 on the pre-Columbia native peoples and cultu
Dan Walker
Jun 21, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. So why did I give it only one star??!! Well, I'll tell you.

First the good: this is a wide-sweeping review of what Mr. Mann calls the homogenocene - the result of Colombus discovering America and the worldwide mixing of plants, animals, microbes, and humans that has resulted. I learned a lot of historical facts that Mr. Mann spices up with stories that give you a real feel for the boomtowns that sprang up around silver mines and rubber plantations in South America,
Dey Martin
May 06, 2017 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
Aug 31, 2011 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
Christina Dudley
Sep 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A fabulous, unique read. Mann follows the manifold, global consequences of Columbus touching down in Hispaniola. One of those books where you learn SO much! Just to name one example, the whole discussion of American slavery was revelatory--how the native African resistance to malaria and yellow fever played in, how traditions of slavery in Africa differed from how the Europeans used slaves, and how race as we now think of it was not the huge factor we deem it, with our contemporary mindset.

Gary Brecht
Dec 09, 2011 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 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
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A worthy successor to 1492, although to me slightly less absorbing at times. Gathering up new or overlooked research produces a world picture that shows the narrow viewpoint of our traditional Western education. There are many aha moments, such as the fact that the majority of early non indigenous arrivals in the western hemisphere were in fact black Africans. The interaction of escaped black slaves and indigenous Indians and the emergence of powerful maroon communities is also illuminating. The ...more
Kaethe Douglas
Apr 10, 2014 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 14 Oct 25, 2015 02:10PM  

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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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Neal Stephenson is the bestselling author of the novels Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, Seveneves, Reamde, Anathem, The System of...
33 likes · 7 comments
“mistaken. The Columbian Exchange had such far-reaching effects that some biologists now say that Colón’s voyages marked the beginning of a new biological era: the Homogenocene. The term refers to homogenizing: mixing unlike substances to create a uniform blend. With the Columbian Exchange, places that were once ecologically distinct have become more alike. In this sense the world has become one, exactly as the old admiral hoped. The lighthouse in Santo Domingo should be regarded less as a celebration of the man who began it than a recognition of the world he almost accidentally created, the world of the Homogenocene we live in today.” 3 likes
“As it does today, malaria played a huge role in the past—a role unlike that of other diseases, and arguably larger. When Europeans brought smallpox and influenza to the Americas, they set off epidemics: sudden outbursts that shot through Indian towns and villages, then faded. Malaria, by contrast, became endemic, an ever-present, debilitating presence in the landscape. Socially speaking, malaria—along with another mosquito-borne disease, yellow fever—turned the Americas upside down. Before these maladies arrived, the most thickly inhabited terrain north of Mexico was what is now the southeastern United States, and the wet forests of Mesoamerica and Amazonia held millions of people. After malaria and yellow fever, these previously salubrious areas became inhospitable. Their former inhabitants fled to safer lands; Europeans who moved into the emptied real estate often did not survive a year.” 3 likes
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