Over 200 million years ago, geological forces split apart the continents. They developed different suites of flora & fauna. When Columbus came to the Americas, he ended that separation. Driven by the goal of establishing trade with China, he accidentally set off an ecological convulsion as European vessels carried thousands of species to new environs.
The Columbian Exchange, as researchers call it, is why there are tomatoes in Italy, oranges in Florida, chocolates in Switzerland & chili peppers in Thailand. More important, creatures colonists knew nothing about hitched along. Earthworms, mosquitoes & cockroaches; honeybees, dandelions & African grasses; bacteria, fungi & viruses; rats of every description—all rushed like eager tourists into lands that had never seen their like, changing lives & landscapes.
Eight decades later, a Spaniard named Legazpi succeeded where Columbus had failed. He sailed west to establish continual trade with China, then the richest, most powerful country. In Manila, a city Legazpi founded, American silver, mined by African & Indian slaves, was sold to Asians in return for silk for Europeans. It was the 1st time that goods & people from every part of the globe were connected in a single worldwide exchange. Much as Columbus created a new world biologically, Legazpi & Spain created a new world economically.
The Columbian Exchange underlies much of subsequent history. Presenting the latest research by ecologists, anthropologists, archaeologists & historians, Mann shows how the creation of this worldwide network of ecological & economic exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated China, convulsed Africa & for two centuries made Mexico City--where Asia, Europe & the new frontier of the Americas interacted--the center of the world. In such encounters, he uncovers the germ of today’s political disputes, from immigration to trade policy to culture wars.
|Title||:||1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created|
|Number of Pages||:||557 pages|