Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke


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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Great New Book of Revisionist History

Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491 by Charles Mann
(History buffs)
I loved this book! While I have read many books on this particular subject before, there were so many new ideas and new revelational research facts in it that I was amazed and fascinated from beginning to end. 

While many of us already knew that Columbus didn't 'discover' anything (Columbus Day-what an ironic historical joke), many of the other concepts in the book were brand new to me and is really reshaping my ideas of our American past. 

For example, I did know that Native and Central Americans did have plentiful populations but I never imagined such complex societies existed for hundreds of years.  I pictured, or was taught, of small bands of Indians wandering the plains and forests.  However, this book makes very clear that these populations were larger than many European countries!  I can only imagine what treasures were lost to disease and the murder of these cultures.

Another new idea is the Great Plains.  Like most others, I just assumed that it was always that way.  Yet, Charles Mann makes very clear that Native Americans created this landscape through careful management of both plants and animals and fire.

The 'mystery of the maize' was probably most intriguing.  Two quotes.."No wild ancestor of maize has ever been found".. Instead, it was created through "bold acts of biological manipulation".

Just a few tidbits to whet your whistle for more!  If you like revisionist history, this is a great read!

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