Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491
by Mann, Charles C.
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Book list *Starred Review* Mann's successful adult book 1491 (2006) is reshaped here for a younger audience, to good effect. Certainly, the material is fascinating. Mann's major point is that much of what's considered common knowledge about the Americas is now under reconsideration. Moreover, new discoveries make possible a rethinking of civilization's beginnings altogether. The book starts with the discovery of prehistoric inhabitants in Peru, whose civilization is as old as, or older than, Sumer in the Middle East. Moreover, pyramids appeared in Peru first as well. After these startling observations, Mann divides his book into several parts, one of which looks at how the Old World was able to defeat the New World (disease helped) and the question of whether the Americas were actually a wilderness. Much has been done to repackage the information for a middle-school audience. Historical engravings and bold art, including work from Diego Rivera, demand attention, meshing well with clean pages and a good-size typeface (yet the maps could use more explanation). The narrative is inviting, too, though the material still remains dense in places. Catnip for budding historians or archaeologists.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2009 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 6 Up-In this beautifully illustrated and concise adaptation of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (Vintage, 2006), Mann paints a superb picture of pre-Columbian America. In the process, he overturns the misconceived image of Natives as simple, widely scattered savages with minimal impact on their surroundings. Well-chosen, vividly colored graphics and photographs of mummies, pyramids, artifacts, and landscapes as well as the author's skillful storytelling will command the attention of even the most reluctant readers. Eye-catching sidebars and oversize chapter headings seem to pop from the pages. Mann constructs the narrative around three crucial questions that continue to confound historians today: Was the New World really new? Why were the Europeans successful? What ecological impact did Natives have on their surroundings? From the pre-Columbian genetic engineering of maize to the existence of pyramids older than the Egyptian variety, Mann's lucid answers to these questions represent current scholarly opinion and point the way toward future exploration and discovery. Students and teachers will benefit greatly from this engaging exploration of America's most overlooked and misunderstood historical periods.-Brian Odom, Pelham Public Library, AL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.