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Extended Audio Sample 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus Audiobook, by Charles C. Mann Click for printable size audiobook cover
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: August 2005 ISBN: 9781598872637
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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.

Download and start listening now!

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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.”

    Salon

  • “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 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 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 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 Holly | 1/27/2014

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

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Capua79 | 12/29/2013

    " An incredible look at a world I hardly perceived was as complex and intricate as any other society on Earth. The way Mann describes nation after nation in the Americas illuminates the vibrant interactions between different societies. One of the most memorable parts of the book for me was on The Land of Four Quarters. The first time I read this book, it took me less than two days to finish. The knowledge I gained from reading this book was more than all my history classes combined. This book is definitely worth the read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chumahan | 11/21/2013

    " Excellent detail and well written. Turns a lot of commonly held beliefs about American Indians and the American Continent. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David Morman | 10/6/2013

    " Not much about NW tribes but very informative descriptions of the large populations, complex cultures, and human-dominated landscapes rivaling Greece and Rome in the Americas before Europeans and smallpox arrived. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dennis James | 8/14/2013

    " If you want something besides Euro American history about those who came before this is a must read "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chuck Leonard | 8/3/2013

    " Very interesting book that challenges many of the long-held interpretations of what existed in North America before the arrival of the Spanish, French, British etc... Hopefully it will stimulate some additional study. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pawel | 7/22/2013

    " Very good summary of recent research on pre-columbian America. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle Mason | 7/11/2013

    " Fascinating new theories on the number and accomplishments of the inhabitants of the Americas BEFORE Columbus.....not for everyone but if you love Indian history, archaeology, and adventure this is a fascinating and well written book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Monet | 5/29/2013

    " Didn't finish this one. Full of detailed information--and boring. I spent so much time reading this heavily date-and-name style writing in high school text books, it wasn't much fun to do it again. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bethany | 4/22/2013

    " 2.5 stars. While I did enjoy listening to it, the best parts (IMO) were the reasonably certain history rather than the conjectures (and usually I love conjecture, as you can see from my bookshelf). There's a lot of jumping around, but the part about Tisquantum was my favorite. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Damien | 4/10/2013

    " Enlightened view of pre-Columbian Americas. I like it when someone can take the middle road and put the competing theories under a modern lense. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Phwade143 | 10/21/2012

    " I think it's interesting that I never learned this in School, but I'm happy to know about it now. We never learned so much of our history and just was taught the European version when the other outlooks are just as amazing and more true to what happened. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matt | 11/4/2011

    " This book did inspire me to read several there books on pre-Columbian America... very interesting... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dawn | 10/18/2011

    " I listened to this. Now I'd like to read it, so I could actually remember more of what it said. Very interesting about the Indian cultures in North and South America. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Henry | 9/27/2011

    " Fantastic. Sometimes the language is a bit repetitive, but I'll gladly forgive this book that for the expansion it brought to my worldview. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gerald | 8/1/2011

    " Fascinating stuff that you didn't learn in history about what life in the Americas looked like just before being "discovered". "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barbara | 7/16/2011

    " Extremely interesting and thought provoking... Lots of new ideas that change how I think about pre columbean north and south america "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katie Brandano Cusick | 6/24/2011

    " Didn't read the whole thing. Was doing research and I got what I wanted. I wanted it to be more about North America, but it wasn't. Central-America and South America are doumented in this much more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patmcclain | 6/12/2011

    " Very readable book with the most current theories. I enjoyed it a lot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rebecca | 6/11/2011

    " An excellent book that reveals everything we think we know about pre-Cooumbian history may be wrong. well written and thought-provoking, I encourage everyone to read this intriguing tome. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cindy | 6/6/2011

    " This was a selection for our American History class. Not one I would have picked for daily reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dennis | 5/20/2011

    " If you want something besides Euro American history about those who came before this is a must read "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Elana | 5/17/2011

    " couldn't get into it right now. I was validated by the one who recommended it. She said it was like a text book and just to scan it and find the interesting tidbits that I could pull out and forget the rest. Maybe another time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 5/9/2011

    " A good read with lots of interesting information about the history of the native peoples of the Americas, mostly South America, definitely some interesting information to be within its pages. "

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About the Author
Author Charles C. Mann

Charles C. Mann is a correspondent for Science and the Atlantic Monthly, and has co-written several 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, among others. His writing was twice selected for both The Best American Science Writing and The Best American Science and Nature Writing. He lives with his wife and their children in Amherst, Massachusetts.