Charles Mann and Jared Diamond about Columbus's Discovery of America – Essay Example
The paper “Charles Mann and Jared Diamond about Columbus's Discovery of America" is an inspiring example of an essay on history. Remember back when we were in elementary school and there was a certain rhyme that went like “In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue..,” That is how the world remembers Columbus – the man who crossed the Atlantic in the year 1492.
Always it is the voyages of Columbus which draw one in and become a key identifying factor when his name is mentioned. However writer Charles Mann has a different perspective to the story told. He highlights the activities that Columbus’ undertook in the years that followed his initial voyage which led to the creation of the New World. He goes on to state that when in 1492 Columbus crossed the Atlantic, it was his journey which prompted the exchange of not just information but that of food, livestock, insects, planets as well as viruses across the continents.
This incident in Mann’s opinion has far more complex implications as one initially assumes. It was a tremendous ecological convulsion of sorts which can correctly categorize as one of the greatest historical events after the death of dinosaurs. In certain ways he says, it was this event that underlines a huge chunk of history that is taught in schools today; starting from the Industrial Revolution to the Agricultural Revolution and even the rise of the West. All these incidents are can be put together in the same category, one that is called the “Columbian exchange.”
Mann speaks about the world and how it changed after the voyage undertaken by Columbus’ in his publication by the name of “Uncovering the New World Columbus Created”. He has elaborated on the literature of this book and based it as a sequel to another one of his publications which talks about pre-Columbian history. This publication is available by the name of “New Revelations of the Americans before Columbus.” In this book, he talks about the drastic changes brought on about Columbus’s intervention in the way things were. A basic example which one can look at is the fact that all the things we consider to be locally grown, were once considered native to the Americas.
Surprised? Let’s look at this example in more detail. Look at the vegetables that grow in your garden. Then inject the fact that not a single thing growing in your garden originate within a thousand miles to your house. The tomatoes that we grow or purchase came from Mexico. Basil originated from Italy. Even the Onions came from Europe. Mann gives his own personal example by stating that even in his home town Massachusetts, there is entirely nothing there which is from New England.
It was Columbus his men which brought back with them things like wheat, livestock and domesticated animals, such as the horse, to the Americas. Following Columbus were a massive amount of Europeans who brought along with them a wide variety and the vast number of the insect as well as animal-borne diseases which prior to their entry did not exist outside Europe.
Yes, that’s right. You might right away move to the many diseases which we hear about today. All these great diseases, big and small, be it smallpox or measles or even influenza, all of these did not exist before. This was mostly because the Americas did not have any domesticated animals prior to these voyages. With the Europeans, you can look at the magnetite of this incident by seeing that all the deaths which were caused over the millennium due to these diseases put on one side and all the deaths in the Americas over 150 years put on one side. Still confused? Let’s just say that the result was such that it led to the wiping out of about two thirds or close to 90% of America’s citizens this is easily considered as one of the most horrible demographic disasters in America’s history (Diamond, 2009).
So now you ask yourself how we missed all this. This answer to this question is simple. You see the initial accounts a diaries look at the epidemics in their records of life in the 1500s and the 1600s. However, it wasn’t until the year 1960 that the modern historians came to the realization that the scale of the human death toll during those years prior to Columbus’s landing was so critical and massive.
So knowing all that we do now you see this incident and the praise we have for Columbus’s voyage seems to be struck down in a shadow of human collateral. The plethora of diseases which sprung up everywhere across the landscape, one cannot help but think could have been avoided. True, it was not an undertaking that we can hold Columbus accountable for however one can not help but add up everything that we now know and view the incident as a catastrophe of sorts. At least, that is a perspective which Mann sheds light on.