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In this groundbreaking work of science, history, and archaeology, Charles C. Mann radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492. Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized breeding process that it has been called man’s first feat of genetic engineering. Indeed, Indians were not living lightly on the land but were landscaping and manipulating their world in ways that we are only now beginning to understand. Challenging and surprising, this a transformative new look at a rich and fascinating world we only thought we knew. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Describes how recent archaeological research has transformed long-held myths about the Americas, revealing far older and more advanced cultures with a greater population than were previously thought to have existed.
Gautam has here laid out the first serious reading of Michel Foucault in relation to key Sanskrit texts, and--what may be a surprise to many--he has written the first book-length work in English on the nature and origin of the Kamasutra. Gautam also takes up the Natyasastra (the Kamasutra's twin), locating in the first the themes of sexual-erotic pleasure, and locating in the second the classical Indian view of theater, music, dance, and aesthetic pleasure. The book shows how closely intertwined the history of erotics in ancient Indian culture is with the history of theater-aesthetics. Foucault provides a framework for opening up the intellectual horizon of Indian thought; it is his distinction between ars erotics (erotic arts) and scientia sexualis (science of sexuality) that fuels Gautam's exploration of the courtesan as symbol of both erotic and aesthetic pleasure, particularly in her role as a wife to her patron, which entails the morphing of erotics into a form of theater. The scope broadens ambitiously, to an inquiry on the nature of knowledge formation, erotics, theater, and gender relations in premodern Indian society and culture--as they converged on the historical figures of the courtesan and her male counterpart, the dandy. Gautam's twining of aims and subjects--Foucault's western philosophy of pleasure and India's classic text on eros (anchored in art and aesthetics)--transforms both the modern and the ancient texts with new understandings, and as new forms of investigating erotics and subjectivity itself.
Up until very recently it was believed that in 1491, the year before Columbus landed, the Americas, one-third of the earth's surface, were a near-pristine wilderness inhabited by small, roaming bands of indigenous peoples. Then, the story went, they encountered European society, their world was turned upside down and they entered history. But recently unexpected discoveries have dramatically changed our understanding of Indian Life. Many scholars now argue that the Indians were much more numerous than previously believed, that they were in the Americas for far longer, and that they had far more ecological impact on the land. This knowledge has enormous implications for today's environmental disputes, yet little has filtered into textbooks, and even less into public awareness. Charles Mann brings together all of the latest research, and the results of his own travels throughout North and South America, to provide a new, fascinating and iconoclastic account of the Americas before Columbus.
Based on the startling revelations that the author presented in his adult-level 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, this book for young readers is a fascinating full-color journey into the world of the many advanced cultures that populated the Americas before the arrival of European explorers.
From the best-selling, award-winning author of 1491 and 1493--an incisive portrait of the two little-known twentieth-century scientists, Norman Borlaug and William Vogt, whose diametrically opposed views shaped our ideas about the environment, laying the groundwork for how people in the twenty-first century will choose to live in tomorrow's world. In forty years, Earth's population will reach ten billion. Can our world support that? What kind of world will it be? Those answering these questions generally fall into two deeply divided groups--Wizards and Prophets, as Charles Mann calls them in this balanced, authoritative, nonpolemical new book. The Prophets, he explains, follow William Vogt, a founding environmentalist who believed that in using more than our planet has to give, our prosperity will lead us to ruin. Cut back! was his mantra. Otherwise everyone will lose! The Wizards are the heirs of Norman Borlaug, whose research, in effect, wrangled the world in service to our species to produce modern high-yield crops that then saved millions from starvation. Innovate! was Borlaug's cry. Only in that way can everyone win! Mann delves into these diverging viewpoints to assess the four great challenges humanity faces--food, water, energy, climate change--grounding each in historical context and weighing the options for the future. With our civilization on the line, the author's insightful analysis is an essential addition to the urgent conversation about how our children will fare on an increasingly crowded Earth.
A vivid new book from an established and bestselling historian.

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