Charles C. Mann is the author of several books, including 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus and 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. Much of his work has been involved in publicizing the ecological factors which shape the course of human history. You can read a lengthy review of 1493 over at Chad Orzel’s blog. Needless to say, I highly recommend it (I read it on the Kindle edition, and it was interesting to see which passages other people had highlighted).
For obvious reasons I don’t usually post about material I haven’t read, but Tyler Cowen points me to the fact that Charles C. Mann has a new book coming out this summer. If you haven’t, I would highly recommend his previous book, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. I think it is correct that Mann probably skewed his narrative a bit too much to the revisionist side, but it is a genuinely revelatory work.* I was aware of the broad outlines already, so it wasn’t surprising, but he marshals the data in a fascinating and engaging manner. The new book is apparently a sequel of sorts, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. Cowen says “I am spellbound reading it, it will be one of the best books of this year, and, although I know this area somewhat, I am learning fascinating information on literally every page.” I suspect that what occurred in the New World after 1492 is actually an amplified version of what occurred across much of the Old World over the past 10,000 years, with the rise of massive agglomerations of humanity due to agriculture.
In other news, malnourished children apparently had mortality rates of 40% due to measles!.
* There is a lot of politics you have to navigate on this topic, from all directions.