Americans have long been taught that Native American ancestors crossed the Bering Strait some 13,000 years ago, existed mainly in nomadic bands, and lived so lightly on the land that the Americas were essentially a wilderness. This provocative work by Science correspondent Charles Mann—now updated and expanded in this new edition—explains how archaeologists and anthropologists have overturned such calcified thought. In 1491 there may have been more people in the Americas than in Europe—maybe 100 million—some of whom lived in large cities with running water. Corn was developed by a sophisticated process comparable to genetic engineering, and the terrain was heavily landscaped. European colonists didn't recognize this, says Mann, because they encountered only a husk of American civilization, since native populations had literally been decimated by the diseases the first explorers brought.
"A sweeping portrait of human life in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus."—NYTBR
"[The author] gently demolishes entrenched myths, with impressive scholarship and with an elegance of style that makes his book a pleasure to read as well as a marvelous education."—Howard Zinn
"Vividly compels us to reexamine how we teach the history of the Americas."—Washington Post Book World