Review: Book sheds light on Indian civilizations

"So much guilt, myth, and historical misinformation has accumulated around the saga of the American Indian that it is a wonder that anything new can possibly be said. Yet in fact we understand comparatively little about North America before the arrival of the Europeans. The difficult task is made more so by the many layers of politically correct ideology and old habits of thinking which threaten any new interpretation of the Indian past.

A great many people, not only American Indians, have a huge ideological and political stake in how this story plays out. But, in "1491" (Alfred A. Knopf, 480 pages, $30) Charles Mann has done his homework and navigates these minefields with aplomb. He has not only absorbed the substance of a vast range of new research that has emerged during the past 10 years but has personally visited many of the important sites in the company of key archaeologists and scholars. What he has to tell us is indeed a revelation."

Get the Story:
Peter Pettus: The Land Was Theirs Before We Were the Land's (The New York Sun 8/10)

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