Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus" by Charles Mann- Book Review

I did not like this book. I kept asking myself, what is the point of it? The author has a secular worldview that I don't share. The author claims the Inkas were the biggest empire in 1491 (page 64), which means there was a lot of bloodshed. Though the author tells us some of the war stories from the Inkas, he questioned the veracity of it because it was written by Spaniards (page 69). Yet he is sure the Spaniards were brutal toward Indigenous people, by quoting from the same Spanish sources he believed are not reliable when it comes to the Inkas.

He seems to dismiss the Aztec human sacrifices as the equivalent of the European death penalty (page 120). He mentioned the depopulation of natives by the Spaniards, but he did not mention the Carib tribes were depopulating entire islands in the Caribbean before Columbus' arrival in 1492. 

Like many modern authors, he blamed plagues on Europeans, as if plagues and diseases never existed in the New World before Columbus. He repeated the same cliches about smallpox, but he had to admit syphilis existed before Columbus. However, he makes all these arguments trying to sound objective. 

Like I said in "Columbus Day vs Indigenous Peoples' Day" book, "Are you telling me that Indigenous peoples never experienced plagues, epidemics, diseases, and the like? Really? Remember, some tribes ate poisonous animals, had sex with anything that moved, practiced cannibalism, performed human sacrifices, and none were as technologically advanced in science and medicine as the Europeans, and you are telling me they never experienced disease? No way!"

The author claimed that British vessels may have reached Newfoundland (America) before Columbus (1480)... which also means, they might not have, and didn't! He said that in 1501 Gaspar Corte-Real found items from Venice with some natives, ignoring Europeans had been trading with natives since 1492. The fact still remains that neither England nor Venice did not reach America before Columbus. 

The book later focuses on the scholarly assumptions and theories of different things about the Indigenous people. I think the best books about the Indigenous people of the past, are those written by Columbus and his contemporaries, including Ferdinand Columbus, Las Casas, Gomara, Oviedo, Martyr, Sahagun, etc.

No comments:

Post a Comment