1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann
Reading this terrific book should be worth three college credits in archology or anthropology. It was long, but I couldn’t put it down. The author is a writer, not an academic, so not given to turgid prose and with no agenda axe to grind. When I was in school, the “settled science” was that the Indians arrived in north America via the land bridge from Siberia. (Mann calls them Indians because that is what he says they mostly call themselves.) He reports research that places them here much earlier. The book also destroys several other myths. There were great cities in the Americas to rival anything Europe had, through only Cahokia is north of the Rio Grande. Everyone knows about the Maya, the Inka and the Aztec. There were other empires that rose and fell before the first Europeans arrived with their diseases. Many fell to conquest by other Indian empires. The Indians were colonialist conquers as much as the European, Asians, etc. Others appear to have fallen victim to climate change—without SUVs! “Super El Ninos” in the Pacific caused droughts that lasted for years. Cahokia seems to have ben a victim of it’s own success, with expending crop areas changing the climate and causing drought. This book is well worth reading.