1491 by Charles C. Mann

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

by Charles C. Mann

Contrary to what Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness. Rather, there were huge numbers of native peoples who actively molded and influenced the land around them.

There was the astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, which had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures that created corn in a specialized breeding process that has been called man’s first feat of genetic engineering.

Indeed, America's indigenous communities were not living lightly on the land but were landscaping and manipulating their world in ways that we are only now beginning to understand. Challenging and surprising, this is a transformative new look at a rich and fascinating world we only thought we knew.