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1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

Autor:   •  October 25, 2015  •  Book/Movie Report  •  883 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,307 Views

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1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus

By Zion Forbes

Charles C. Mann is an American Scientific Journalist and acclaimed book writer. Charles C. Mann, a correspondent for The Atlantic, Science, and Wired, has written for Fortune, The New York Times, Smithsonian, Technology Review, Vanity Fair, and The Washington Post, as well as for the TV network HBO and the series Law & Order. He has received numerous rewards including American Bar Association, the Margaret Sanger Foundation, The Best American Science Writing 2003 and The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2003 just to name a few. This summer I was required to read Charles C. Mann 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus (Knopf), which has won the U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ Keck Award for the best book of the year.

        1491 describes the life of Indians before Columbus, who came to the Americas in 1492. This non-fiction and national bestseller tells a story of Indians that is not in our history books. Some of their cities had a larger population than most European cities at the time, clean streets, and even running water. They knew how to take care of land, using it to their advantage. When Columbus and the others arrived they also brought along disease which helped wiped out much of their civilization, leading to the misconception of Indians today. This book was really interesting and an eye opener to me. In Elementary school we are taught Indians are uncivilized savages but in truth they were a powerful group of people.

        Mann argues with the stereotype of Indians in 1491. He first tells of Holmberg’s mistake. Allan R. Holmberg lived among the Siriono from 1940 and 1942 and published an account of their lives, Nomads of the Longbow, in 1950. Holmberg stated that they were, “among the most culturally backwards people of the world. Also, stating that they lived in constant hunger, no domestic animals, no musical instrument, no art or design, and no religion. This really led to the misconception of Indians. Holmberg did not know that what he came across were the last people of a thriving nation. Mann compared it to walking across Jews that escaped Nazis control and believing they came from a group of people that have always been skinny, dirty and hungry. I understand why Mann calls this a mistake but he had to remember this was back in 1950 when Holmberg wrote about his accounts. They did not have the technology we have today to realize his own mistake. I believe the Indians would have eventually rebuilt their civilization but they were really just trying to survive.


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