The Theory of Moral Sentiments
A Secular Age


1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had been intending to read this book for many years, but was waiting around till I picked up a copy at a book sale or used bookstore. And finally did this year. While I had high expectations for the book, it exceeded them and really blew me away. Not only was my understanding of pre-Columbian indigenous societies in the Americas limited, much was incorrect or ignorant.

What was most interesting was his emphasis on how indigenous people actively shaped and cultivated the landscape for thousands of years. Europeans did not find a wilderness, and the parts that appeared more wild had only recently become that way when the local populations had been destroyed by European diseases and had not continued their long maintenance of the land. The most surprising revelation of all in this theme of Mann's is the notion that the Amazon forest was an intentionally cultivated orchard and not a wild jungle.

I highly recommend this book.

View all my reviews


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