Charles Mann’s 1491 really deserves the full treatment from our blogfollower with So Much To Read, since it’s a serious book and worth a proper long review. But we got there first, even though it’s been sitting on our shelf for six and a half years. (We had actually started it five years ago, but life events got in the way) The book is about the state of things in the Western Hemisphere up to the time the marauding, foul-smelling Spaniards arrived. Mann crams in tons of information, much of it laying waste to today’s prevailing and sentimental view of indigenous persons having dainty if not invisible carbon footprints. Black hearted reader that we are, we took particular pleasure in the intergenerational dustup between archaeologistas Anna Roosevelt and Betty Meggers over the importance of slashing and burning in Amazonia. We know we’ve said it before, but there are no more vicious fights than academic clashes. Except, of course, religious wars.
On to 1493.