[Hac-announce] Book Discussion - 1493: Uncovering The New World Columbus Created

Dan Blinn danblinn at gmail.com
Sat Aug 25 12:03:39 EDT 2012

We will be discussing "1493: Uncovering The New World Columbus Created" by
Charles Mann.  on September 22, @ 3:00 pm.  Copies are available in public
libraries.  Refreshments will be served.

October's book will be "Galapagos" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

The following description of 1493 is from Goodreads:

>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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