The paper "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann" is a good example of a book review on history. Charles C. Mann’ s book provides a revealing account of groups of people who populated the Americas before the Europeans arrived. Mann demonstrates such well-researched accuracy of the life when the Mayans, Incas, Aztecs, Amazonian and Indian tribes of North America were settled in the rainforest, were populous and even possessed technology that continues to astound engineers today. This paper looks into these four groups and threads their life prior to the coming of the Europeans, who were accused of bringing diseases that wiped out most of their population. For example, Mann presents mathematical facts and scientific accomplishments that bring to light a bewildering variety of cultures and societies beyond anything the schoolbooks have taught.
There were Indian societies that dwelt in permanent settlements and others that wandered; some were wholly democratic, others had very rigid class systems based on a property. Some were ruled by gods carried around on litters, some had judicial systems, which at that time, the only known punishment was torture.
Some lived in caves, others in tepees of bison skins, and others in cabins. There were tribes ruled by warriors or by women, by sacred elders or by councils, or by fraternities whose rituals and membership were as unknown to the rest of the tribe as those of any college secret society. There were tribes who worshipped the bison or a matriarch or the maize they lived by. There were tribes that have never heard of war, and there were tribes debauched by centuries of fighting.
In short, there was a great diversity of Indian nations, speaking over five hundred languages. It is surprising to discover in Mann’ s book the different facts that surprise readers. These facts are not just hearsays. Mann backs up his words with shreds of evidence and sources in archaeology, anthropology, and epidemiology. Mann quotes Anthropologist Henry F Dobyns who claims that "The Indian population in 1491 was between 90 and 112 million people" (p. 94). This just shows that most of the accounts before underestimated the figures for this. Mann accounts that before America came to be what it is now, the Indians’ way of life seems to compose the “ American way of life. ” Even if it a long and dark chapter in American history, it is the European discovery of America, and the experience of the whites, who conquered the continent and settled it— that excites most of us.
Again, the author pens, "In the 1990s geologists laid out data indicating that the ice sheets were much bigger and longer-lasting than previously thought and that even when the ice-free corridor existed it was utterly inhospitable" (p.
169). The Mayan civilization was able to build up itself as well as fall over the stretch of 2,000 years. When Central America was already invaded by Europe, several Mayan cities were left for themselves.