Arts & Entertainment
Review: Indian civilizations eclipsed others


"Think back to high school history class: Remember the part about buffalo in the New World? It probably went something like this: When Europeans began settling the interior of North America in the 17th century, they encountered pristine forests and a vast prairie crowded with millions of the giant horned mammals along with countless other animals and birds. Over the next three centuries, desperate colonists, industrious frontiersmen and heedless sportsmen upset the natural balance, hunting the bison to the brink of extinction.

But like much of what we learned in school, that's not the whole story, Charles C. Mann tells us in his book "1491." "The Americas seen by the first colonists were teeming with game … [but] the continents had not been that way for long," Mann writes.

Many archeologists and anthropologists now believe, Mann says, that more people inhabited the Americas than lived in Europe at the time Christopher Columbus reached the New World in 1492. The largest Aztec city — Tenochtitlán, the site of modern-day Mexico City — was more populous than Paris; unlike European cities, it had running water and clean streets."

Get the Story:
Jim Rossi: What Columbus didn't find (The Los Angeles Times 8/21)
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Review: Book sheds light on Indian civilizations (08/10)