Columbus's deadly imports

Boston Globe

1491COLUMBUS DAY is bittersweet now, unlike the triumphalist holiday of a century ago, when Americans celebrated the coast-to-coast taming of the continent. Now we as a society know that much was lost in the European settlement of the hemisphere, and no one tells this story more accessibly than Charles C. Mann in his book "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus."

 Relying on anthropological research over the last few decades, Mann portrays a hemisphere far different from the primeval wilderness of popular lore. Unlike anthropologists' early estimates of an indigenous population approaching 8 million, he endorses an estimate of 100 million people, a fifth of all those on earth at the end of the 15th century...

In 1620, the Pilgrims landed on a coast that had been teeming with settlements just 10 years before. They took refuge in shelters that the Wampanoags had abandoned as their population declined to a tenth of what it had been before they were visited by hepatitis, left by a European shipwrecked on Cape Cod...

Read the rest of this Globe editorial here, and comment below. 

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