The book New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus explains how history and anthropology have disappeared or reduced to the extent of pre-contact American civilization. The book creates a picture of a much vibrant and populated modern world as compared to one often taught about in many schools. It offers a ground breaking start, and it aims at changing the modern peoples understanding of the Americans before the Europeans arrived in the year 1492. Traditionally, Native Americans learned in school that the ancestors or the forefathers are the people who lived in the western hemisphere. This was the time Columbus was thought to have crossed the Bering Strait approximately a thousand years ago. These American lived in small nomadic bands. During Columbus time, the Americans lived in peace with nature, so the land that America could be considered as wilderness. However, as Mann puts it, anthropologists and archeologists have spent approximately the last 30 years trying to prove that some of these assumptions are wrong. In his book, Mann startles the reader by revealing how a new generation of researchers with novel scientific techniques is making the unexpected conclusions in the history. Some of the assumptions that Mann accuses the new researchers of are discussed in the following paragraphs. In the year 1491, there were more people residing in America than in Europe. Cities such as Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, were more populated than any modern city. According to Mann, these contemporary researchers have concluded that a city like Tenochtitlan had piped water, perfectly clean streets and good-looking botanical parks. However, Mann claims this was not the case. Another conclusion made by the modern researchers, which is refuted by Mann, is that pre-Columbian Indians living in Mexico developed corn by a sophisticated breeding process. Finally, Mann argues with the current researchers that Native Americans did not transform their farming land before the arrival of Europeans. In his book, Mann tries to clarify the controversies surrounding the American history. He illustrates some of the approaches used to speculate about the Americans before the Columbus arrival. His book focuses on revelation and scientific inquiry.
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Mann’s Book as a Piece of Revisionists’ Historical Work
Mann starts his book with a description of Holmberg’s mistake. This mistake claims that traditional Americans lived in unhistoried or eternal state. In his work, the author dispels this claim and opens the readers mind to a barrage of new revelations evidenced or backed up by the academic literature. Despite the fact that Mann is a journalist and not a historian, he creates a vivid and clear picture of the American history. Mann helps illuminate the fact that the Indians did not have a rich civilization as the modern researchers suggest. However, as a piece of revisionist’s historical work, Mann’s book is not strictly organized, and any reader can be swayed easily with this disorganization. The book hops between different spots on the continent, various ages and civilizations frequently. Nonetheless, the author puts some fundamental points that make up much of his thesis. At the bottom of it all, his well-written and wide-ranging book aims at debunking many myths about the pre-Columbian America. As claimed by to the author, much of the history that he was taught together with many other Americans was wrong almost in all part. In reality Indians lived there for much longer than was assumed before. They were also in larger numbers. Indians succeeded in claiming ownership on the land, where Columbus arrived at in 1492. In the three sections of his book, Mann competently develops these comprehensive points.
- Synthesis of several years of academic research of the time before Columbus in the number of residents
- Analysis of the influence of old world plants, ice age migrations and pathogens
- Establishment and downfall of sophisticated societies in North America, South America and Mesoamerica.
Mann can be said to push boundaries of historical inquiry efficiently based on the fact that his piece of work covers many different aspects through the history from the Ice Age Beringia to the Amazonia in the twentieth century. He has also gathered information from archeology, anthropology and historical literature. This makes his historical analysis of the American life valid and efficient. His book is understandable to the general audience, and he bases his conclusion on the interviews, personal observations and scholarly literature. Historically, it appears that there is very little information about the Indians and this makes it a matter of debate. There is no consensus on when the Indians ancestors came to America and from where they originated. The ongoing discovery of facts and their interpretations of Indian materials alters the previous historical records.
However, Mann navigates all of these controversies and approaches this issue from a scientific traditional point of view. He avoids jumping into conclusions, and explains the importance of everything from glottochronology to haplogroups and landraces. This makes his work valid in the historical context. This is because the author is building on the already known data and the frequently asked questions. To make his arguments valid, Mann compares the earliest prehistoric to what is documented today and what has been proved to be true. His work attempts to show people how American Indians, just like other human beings in other areas, were involved in shaping the present day America. He is sure that at some point, Indians acted as land managers, and that they did not live lightly on the land.
Despite valid arguments, by the end of Manns book, it can be established that his work is not very credible, reliable and effective. The final section of the book is quite disappointing. In this section, Mann is describing European interactions with the use of his observation. He goes further to claim that English colonists constantly ran off to live with the Indians during the initial period of settlement. The author erroneously assumes that the white Indians were drawn by the enticement of Iroquois culture. This is wrong as the white Indians could have run away because of hunger. Moreover, those in Jamestown could have escaped because of starving and the brutal martial law regime. Additionally, there is no group that run away to join the Haudenosaunee. As a result of this, Mann can be perceived to be going too far in his attempts to correct the misunderstanding of the pre-Columbus period. He puts the needless efforts into glorifying rather than only revising.
Despite the fact that this book is a piece of revisionists’ historical work, Mann at times seems to be over defensive in preempting criticism. In one of his chapters on Inca, Mann describes the origin of Indians as a founding family in migration from the lake around Titicaca region. However, the Spaniard, who wrote the original piece of literature, dismissed it as absurd. In response to this argument, Mann says that migration from the Titicaca region is quite plausible. At the end of it all, it comes out clearly that one historian knows about the Aztec intellectual tradition based on the little archeological evidence preserved by the conquistadors. Thus, it means that Mann attempts to bridge the knowledge gap by claiming that assumptions by modern researchers are not credible.