1493: DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
“Columbus's voyage did not mark the discovery of a New World, but its creation.”
Some Questions To Consider
What most surprised you about 1493?
Does 1493 have one dominant theme? If so, what is it?
How does Mann use the term Homogocene, and what role does it play in his account?
How would you begin to characterize Mann's approach to history? How would you compare and contrast it with more traditional histories? What is gained and what is lost?
"Newspapers usually describe globalization in purely economic terms, but it is also a biological phenomenon; indeed, from a long-term perspective it may be primarily a biological phenomenon." (p. 7) Comment.
Describe the structure of the book. How is 1493 organized and how do you think the choices made by Mann here are connected to and indeed also help to reveal his central arguments?
Mann uses a number of case studies to examine the transfer of plants, animals, pathogens, and people across the different continents in the last five centuries. What is interesting about the way he uses such topics as tobacco, malaria, silver, the potato, guano, rubber, and quilombos to highlight his themes?
How does Mann integrate the history of China into his account?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of 1493?
To what extent can 1493 provide us with new perspectives on globalization today?
Some Extra Resources
Ian Morris, "Seeds, Germs And Slaves," New York Times, August 19, 2011.
"'1493: Uncovering The World Columbus Created,'" C-Span, September 26, 2011.
"Book Review: '1493' By Charles C. Mann," Seattle PI, April 14, 2013.
Robin Blackburn, "'1493" By Charles C. Mann -- Review," Guardian, November 4, 2011.
John Strawn, "'1493' Review: Charles C. Mann Changes How We See The World," Oregonian, September 4, 2011.
Gregory McNamee, "Review Of '1493: Uncovering The New World Columbus Created,' By Charles Mann," Washington Post, August 25, 2011.
Bruce Watson, "'1493,' By Charles C. Mann," SF Gate, August 14, 2011.
"Charles C. Mann: 1492 Before And After," Chicago Humanities Festival, November 5, 2012.