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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (16,106 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Charles C. Mann Narrator: Peter Johnson Publisher: Highbridge Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In the last 20 years, archaeologists and anthropologists equipped with new scientific techniques have made far-reaching discoveries about the Americas. For example, Indians did not cross the Bering Strait 12,000 years ago, as most of us learned in school. They were already here. Their numbers were vast, not few.

Charles Mann takes us on an enthralling journey of scientific exploration. We learn that the Indian development of modern corn was one of the most complex feats of genetic engineering ever performed. That the Great Plains are a third smaller today than they were in 1700 because the Indians who maintained them by burning died. And that the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact.

Compelling and eye-opening, this book has the potential to vastly alter our understanding of our history and change the course of todays environmental disputes.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Marvelous…A sweeping portrait of human life in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus…A remarkably engaging writer.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “If you haven’t read [it] because the book form seems too weighty, don’t miss the audio edition…[It] is even more gripping as an audio listen, allowing listeners to absorb more of the many facts than printed word seems to readily offer.”

    Midwest Book Review

  • “Fascinating…A landmark of a book that drops ingrained images of colonial America into the dustbin, one after the other.”

    Boston Globe

  • “A ripping, man-on-the-ground tour of a world most of us barely intuit…An exhilarating shift in perspective…1491 erases our myth of a wilderness Eden. It replaces that fallacy with evidence of a different genesis, exciting and closer to true.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “Mann tells a powerful, provocative, and important story…1491 vividly compels us to reexamine how we teach the ancient history of the Americas and how we live with the environmental consequences of colonization.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “Engagingly written and utterly absorbing…Part detective story, part epic, and part tragedy.”

    Miami Herald

  • “Provocative…A Jared Diamond-like volley that challenges prevailing thinking about global development. Mann has chronicled an important shift in our vision of world development; one out young children could end up studying in their textbooks when they reach junior high.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Marvelous…A revelation…Our concept of pure wilderness untouched by grubby human hands must now be jettisoned.”

    New York Sun

  • “Monumental…Mann slips in so many fresh, new interpretations of American history that it all adds up to a deeply subversive work.”


  • “Concise and brilliantly entertaining…Reminiscent of John McPhee’s eloquence with scientific detail.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • A 2005 Time Magazine Top 10 Book
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2005 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2005 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Margarita | 2/9/2014

    " This book is awesome! My friend and anthropology colleague recommended it to me, and I'm so glad I read it. The author draws on interdisciplinary research to describe what the Western Hemisphere was like in 1491, right before Columbus, and he also describes the impact of colonialism: not only the destruction of multiple knowledges and ways of life, but the importance that American cultures (meaning, original cultures of the Western Hemisphere) had on the colonists, and on our world today. Some of his main points are that in 1491 there were MORE indigenous people, their societies had existed for longer, and they grew more complex and technologically accomplished than previously imagined. I had read some of this research before, but the author does a great job of summarizing in clear, easily understandable language a lot of research articles and academic texts that are probably really boring to read first hand. This book is at once amazing and so sad - the truly incredible technical knowledge and artistic advances of many original Americans are lost to history. BUT this kind of book can do a lot to right many many misconceptions about what the Americas were like when the colonists arrived (NOT empty, not even North America), what the landscape was like (totally culturally modified, NOT wilderness), and what the people were like too (very diverse, technologically accomplished and complex!). The author does use a lot of weird words, and I had to get out the dictionary a lot. Some examples I had to look up: garrulous, chicanery, pikers. Anyway, I think he really likes his thesaurus. He also uses many funny descriptive analogies. For example: "The only traces of human settlement were the cattle sprinkled over the savanna like sprinkles on ice cream." Ew! Cow sprinkles??? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Dan Carmack | 2/4/2014

    " This book is OUTSTANDING. I read it and will read it again. There is so much we dont know about these civilizations, and so much of what we learned in school in the 60s and 70s has been revised by modern research, that everyone in North and South America needs to read this to get an idea of the real history of these continents. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Tom | 1/29/2014

    " Fascinating. Completely changed the way I think about pre-Columbian America. A very good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Holly | 1/27/2014

    " Great book--can't wait for 1492 :D "

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