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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (4,132 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Charles C. Mann Narrator: Robertson Dean Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2011 ISBN: 9780307913777
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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. When Christopher Columbus set foot in the Americas, he ended that separation at a stroke. Driven by the economic goal of establishing trade with China, he accidentally set off an ecological convulsion as European vessels carried thousands of species to new homes across the oceans. 

The Columbian Exchange, as researchers call it, is the reason there are tomatoes in Italy, oranges in Florida, chocolates in Switzerland, and chili peppers in Thailand. More important, creatures the colonists knew nothing about hitched along for the ride. Earthworms, mosquitoes, and cockroaches; honeybees, dandelions, and African grasses; bacteria, fungi, and viruses; rats of every description—all of them rushed like eager tourists into lands that had never seen their like before, changing lives and landscapes across the planet. 

Eight decades after Columbus, a Spaniard named Legazpi succeeded where Columbus had failed. He sailed west to establish continual trade with China, then the richest, most powerful country in the world. In Manila, a city Legazpi founded, silver from the Americas, mined by African and Indian slaves, was sold to Asians in return for silk for Europeans. It was the first time that goods and people from every corner of the globe were connected in a single worldwide exchange. Much as Columbus created a new world biologically, Legazpi and the Spanish empire he served created a new world economically.

As Charles C. Mann shows, the Columbian Exchange underlies much of subsequent human history. Presenting the latest research by ecologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians, Mann shows how the creation of this worldwide network of ecological and economic exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa, and for two centuries made Mexico City—where Asia, Europe, and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted—the center of the world. In such encounters, he uncovers the germ of today’s fiercest political disputes, from immigration to trade policy to culture wars.

In 1493, Charles Mann gives us an eye-opening scientific interpretation of our past, unequaled in its authority and fascination.

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Quotes & Awards

  • A book to celebrate . . . A bracingly persuasive counternarrative to the prevailing mythology about the historical significance of the ‘discovery’ of America . . . 1493 is rich in detail, analytically expansive and impossible to summarize . . . [Mann’s book] deserves a prominent place among that very rare class of books that can make a difference in how we see the world, although it is neither a polemic nor a work of advocacy. Thoughtful, learned and respectful of its subject matter, 1493 is a splendid achievement. John Strawn, The Oregonian
  • Despite his scope, Mann remains grounded in fascinating details: why tobacco exhausted the soil; how fevers and blights attacked their victims; what made rubber stretchy; how maize cultivation in the highlands could ruin rice paddies in the lowlands. Such technical insights enhance a very human story, told in lively and accessible prose. Alex Nalbach, Cleveland Plain-Dealer
  • A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2011

  • Revelatory. Lev Grossman, Time Magazine Best Books of 2011
  • Compelling and eye-opening.             Publishers Weekly Top 100 Books of 2011
  • The chief strength of Mann’s richly associative books lies in their ability to reveal new patterns among seemingly disparate pieces of accepted knowledge. They’re stuffed with forehead-slapping ‘aha’ moments . . . If Mann were to work his way methodically through the odd-numbered years of history, he could be expected to publish a book about the global impact of the Great Recession sometime in the middle of the next millennium. If it’s as good as 1493, it would be worth the wait. Doug Childers, Richmond Times-Dispatch
  • Almost mind-boggling in its scope, enthusiasm and erudition . . . Almost every page of 1493 contains some extraordinarily provocative argument or arrestingly bizarre detail . . . Ranging freely across time and space, Mann’s book is full of compelling stories . . . A tremendously provocative, learned and surprising read.             Dominic Sandbrook, The Times of London
  • A landmark book . . . Entrancingly provocative, 1493 bristles with illuminations, insights and surprises. John McFarland, Shelf Awareness
  • Voltaire would have loved Charles C. Mann’s outstanding new book, 1493. In more than 500 lively pages, it not only explains the chain of events that produced those candied fruits, nuts and gardens, but also weaves their stories together into a convincing explanation of why our world is the way it is . . . Mann has managed the difficult trick of telling a complicated story in engaging and clear prose while refusing to reduce its ambiguities to slogans. He is not a professional historian, but most professionals could learn a lot from the deft way he does this . . . Most impressive of all, he manages to turn plants, germs, insects and excrement into the lead actors in his drama while still parading before us an unforgettable cast of human characters. He makes even the most unpromising-sounding subjects fascinating. I, for one, will never look at a piece of rubber in quite the same way now . . . The Columbian Exchange has shaped everything about the modern world. It brought us the plants we tend in our gardens and the pests that eat them. And as it accelerates in the 21st century, it may take both away again. If you want to understand why, read 1493. Ian Morris, The New York Times Book Review
     
  • Mann’s book is jammed with facts and factoids, trivia and moments of great insight that take on power as they accumulate . . . Fascinating and complex, exemplary in its union of meaningful fact with good storytelling, 1493 ranges across continents and centuries to explain how the world we inhabit came to be. Gregory McNamee, The Washington Post
  • For fans of long-form nonfiction, 1493 presents multitudinous delights in the form of absorbing stories and fascinating factoids . . . As a writer, Mann displays many fine qualities: evenhandedness, a sense of wonder, the gift of turning a phrase . . . Mann loves the world and adopts it as his own. Jared Farmer, Science
  • Even the wisest readers will find many surprises here . . . Like 1491, Mann’s sequel will change worldviews. Bruce Watson, San Francisco Chronicle
     
  • Engaging . . . Mann deftly illuminates contradictions on a human scale: the blind violence and terror at Jamestown, the cruel exploitation of labor in the silver mines of Bolivia, the awe felt by Europeans upon first seeing a rubber ball bounce.             The New Yorker
  • A muscular, densely documented follow-up [to Mann’s 1491] . . . 1493 moves at a gallop . . . As a historian Mann should be admired not just for his broad scope and restless intelligence but for his biological senstivity. At every point of his tale he keeps foremost in his mind the effect of humans’ activities on the broader environment they inhabit. Alfred W. Crosby, The Wall Street Journal
     
  • In the wake of his groundbreaking book 1491 Charles Mann has once again produced a brilliant and riveting work that will forever change the way we see the world. Mann shows how the ecological collision of Europe and the Americas transformed virtually every aspect of human history. Beautifully written, and packed with startling research, 1493 is a monumental achievement. David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z
     
  • Mann is trying to do much more than punch holes in conventional wisdom; he’s trying to piece together an elaborate, alternative history that describes profound changes in the world since the original voyage of Columbus. What's most surprising is that he manages to do this in such an engaging way. He writes with an incredibly dry wit. Charles Ealy, Austin American-Statesman
  • Spirited . . . One thing is indisputable: Mann is definitely global in his outlook and tribal in his thinking . . . Mann’s taxonomy of the ecological, political, religious, economic, anthropological and mystical melds together in an intriguing whole cloth. Jonathan E. Lazarus, The [Newark] Star-Ledger
     
  • Mann’s excitement never flags as he tells his breathtaking story . . . There is grandeur in this view of the past that looks afresh at the different parts of the world and the parts each played in shaping it. Marek Kohn, Financial Times
  • Fascinating . . . Convincing . . . A spellbinding account of how an unplanned collision of unfamiliar animals, vegetables, minerals and diseases produced unforeseen wealth, misery, social upheaval and the modern world. Starred review, Kirkus
  • Fascinating . . . Engaging and well-written . . . Information and insight abound on every page. This dazzling display of erudition, theory and insight will help readers to view history in a fresh way. Roger Bishop, BookPage
     
  • Charles Mann expertly shows how the complex, interconnected ecological and economic consequences of the European discovery of the Americas shaped many unexpected aspects of the modern world. This is an example of the best kind of history book: one that changes the way you look at the world, even as it informs and entertains. Tom Standage, author of A History of the World in Six Glasses

  • A fascinating survey . . . A lucid historical panorama that’s studded with entertaining studies of Chinese pirate fleets, courtly tobacco rituals, and the bloody feud between Jamestown colonists and the Indians who fed and fought them, to name a few. Brilliantly assembling colorful details into big-picture insights, Mann’s fresh challenge to Eurocentric histories puts interdependence at the origin of modernity. Starred review, Publishers Weekly
  • In 1491 Charles Mann brilliantly described the Americas on the eve of Columbus’s voyage. Now in 1493 he tells how the world was changed forever by the movement of foods, metals, plants, people and diseases between the ‘New World’ and both Europe and China. His book is readable and well-written, based on his usual broad research, travels and interviews. A fascinating and important topic, admirably told. John Hemming, author of Tree of Rivers
  • A 2011 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Nonfiction
  • One of the 2011 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patrick Finlay | 2/14/2014

    " So much history that I knew nothing about. This is one of the most significant events in the last 1000 years that still effects us everyday. Really interesting, good research and writing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rosalie | 2/8/2014

    " Informative. Mann uses the theory of the Columbian exchange to explore how immigration and migration of people as well as the exchange of resources to and within the New World shaped history, commerce, people and cultures worldwide. Writing a bit dry. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cliff Wood | 2/3/2014

    " An eye-opening perspective of how the world went global after Columbus' journey. Grab this one after you've finished Mann's 1491. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Aaron Arnold | 1/28/2014

    " 1493, correspondingly, is about the entire world after the Exchange, and how the cataclysmic aftereffects have been toppling empires, generating trade, and creating cuisines ever since. There's a huge number of "Did you know...?" facts in each book (one example: Scotland's failure to colonize Nicaragua due to deaths from malaria so bankrupted the country that it was bailed out by and forced to unify with England), and by reading both back-to-back you get both a great scientific synthesis and a hugely entertaining history of the modern world. One interesting corollary of globalization is that diversity in any one place can increase while global diversity can decrease - this subtle idea has major implications for how we judge the performance of our new, interconnected world. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chuck | 1/26/2014

    " An interesting exploration on how the "old" world changed the new "new", and how the process worked in reverse. However, the author went far to deep into detailed accounts that did nothing to work the theme forward. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 David Eppenstein | 1/23/2014

    " Certainly not a book for a casual reader. Its a very long ponderous journey through time and cultures to discover what Columbus' mistake started globally. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephanie | 1/19/2014

    " I really enjoyed this book, as much as I did 1491. Mann's writing style is engaging, the topics are fascinating, and although he takes on a scope with this book that is intimidating he never fails to draw the reader in. This book had me hooked on the spread of malaria, the potato, and the African diaspora. It'll definitley boost my jeapordy score. The book is really a manifesto on globalization, it's beginings and it's effects. It is as much a contemporary commentary as a it is a historical.anthropological work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lark | 1/16/2014

    " Excellent ! Usually when I read a book about a subject this 'old', I wish I could read the books in the bibliography instead. Not here. He is satisfyingly thorough and interesting as well. You don't get the sense that most of his text is guesswork ( Allison Weir, I'm looking at you). I really liked it that he included the entire world - not leaving out the Asiatic countries. This was so interesting that I looked for other things by the same author to read... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth Shapiro | 1/15/2014

    " An absorbing look at the history they skipped over when I was in school. Well written, fascinating at times. Reads more like an adventure than a history book! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marcia | 12/18/2013

    " This book went off on too many tangents. The information was interesting, but it seemed repetitious and be me difficult to keep the strands separate. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Briansmom | 12/12/2013

    " This is a very intriguing book about why the world is the way it is. Ever wonder where potatoes originated, or how slavery came to the Americas? Read this book! Full of lots of interesting tidbits like these, and much, much more. Columbus started the global society. Really! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joan | 11/20/2013

    " It answered my question as to why the Chinese feel they have a population problem. They benefitted just like the Irish by new foods from the Americas. This book wasn't as interesting as 1491 was but it had its moments. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mom/aka:Annette | 11/7/2013

    " This non-fiction was so interesting, it showed my history knowledge was lacking. Economics, environment, politics, culture, etc. . . it is all entwined and mixed and biased and relative. The author made the connection clearer. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michael | 7/31/2013

    " A good book, but occasionally I felt as if the author was addressing middle school students. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike Hickerson | 7/28/2013

    " An excellent book that could have used a better editor. (There was quite a bit of repetition. On one page, the same sentence began two consecutive paragraphs.) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pdiver | 7/21/2013

    " Incredible book for what it is. Thoroughly researched and told in a far better narrative than I had expected. Superb read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matthew | 4/21/2013

    " A worthy sequel to Mann's previous book, 1491, this book has a more global focus. You'll learn a lot of things that you may not have known before. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth Huff | 3/20/2013

    " I liked this book because it looked at what happened after Columbus landed in America, not just the founding of the United States, but the way the world changed because of the things discovered here and how different parts of the globe are slowly becoming more and more like each other. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 1/16/2013

    " Fantastic book for anyone seeking to understand how the modern world was created by the exchanges of species between continents that began with Columbus' voyages. Perfect companion to the author's 1491, which explores life in the American continents before Columbus. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Miao | 11/17/2012

    " A fascinating story revisited. But I lost track of what is going on after the first few descriptions. Not clear about whom we were really talking about any more. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bruno da Maremma | 10/20/2012

    " FAscinating facts on the impact of Columbus 'discovery' and how it launched the globalisation movement, and, it's massive environmental impact on the planet. Well worth reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rebecca | 9/12/2012

    " Just when I thought I understood the concept and dangers of invasive species, Mann made it clear that I had not a clue of the real breadth of how we have been changing the world for centuries. Among many other theories, Mann sets forth an excellent explanation of how slavery took hold in America. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 11/7/2011

    " An excellent book that could have used a better editor. (There was quite a bit of repetition. On one page, the same sentence began two consecutive paragraphs.) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason | 11/1/2011

    " I've read both 1491 and 1493. I liked the latter more. Both books offer a glimpse into history you won't learn in traditional history classes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ang | 10/31/2011

    " What a fabulous read. If it's even possible, it might be better than his last book. Perhaps it's just that the Colombian Exchange is a very compelling topic. I can't recommend enough 1491 and this book, as a pair. Great. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katie | 10/25/2011

    " Amazing! I am totally smarter because I read this book (I am serious)! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cindy | 10/24/2011

    " 1491 was one of my all-time favorite histories and, although this one didn't change my view of the world quite as drastically, it was still interesting and educational. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Harry | 10/23/2011

    " Brilliant! Mann weaves an amazing history of how the Columbian Exchange impacts current culture. Media reports have been very positive, but I wonder what historians say. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 10/22/2011

    " This was nearly as good as its precursor, 1491. The process of globalization began in 1492. We usually think of economic globalization. This book emphasizes the equally radical changes resulting from the globalization of ecology. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 H | 10/17/2011

    " Excellent analysis of the Columbus Exchange. Mann traces the movement of certain commodities, viruses, and people as they move across the globe and analyzes their effects on a new environment. Well written. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emma | 10/15/2011

    " Excellent. It is very different from "1491" in terms of structure and scope, but it is just as fascinating as the prequel. Two of the best books I have read in awhile. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Luke | 10/3/2011

    " A very hefty read, this book offers a lot of food for thought, and will take some time for any one to digest. "

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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.

About the Narrator

Robertson Dean has played leading roles on and off Broadway and at dozens of regional theaters throughout the country. He has a BA from Tufts University and an MFA from Yale. His audiobook narration has garnered numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards. He now lives in Los Angeles, where he works in film and television in addition to narrating.