October 12, 2016
At last month’s meeting on October 12, 2016, members discussed the book 1491 by Charles C. Mann. The book is a detailed exploration of the Americas before Europeans came on the scene, from both anthropological and archeological perspectives. Response to the book was overwhelmingly positive, although some members had not yet completed reading it. Several members mentioned that the depth of information presented required time to reflect on and process, especially as it was often quite different from history as presented in the typical American education experienced by many of those present. The general consensus was that although information was presented in almost a textbook format, the author was able to maintain interest and provide interesting as well as informative detail. The writer also presented various controversies and/or possible alternative explanations for data and discoveries that have been made up to the time of the book’s publication, and group members felt in general that this approach seemed fair and even-handed. The author seems to embody the best qualities of a teacher/writer, presenting information that is interesting and including scholarly detail, yet maintaining accessibility and providing appropriate context and explanations as needed. The overall discussion also included many individual observations of striking or unusual details noted by different members.