Just finished up reading 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
by Charles Mann and found it fascinating. Has anyone else read this book? What did you find most interesting about it? (Here's a link: http://www.powells.com/biblio?isbn=140004006x
For me, the biggest revelation was that the indigenous civilizations had such sophisticated agricultural systems. And their accomplishments as plant breeders are only now being fully recognized.
I recall reading in Guns, Germs and Steel
by Jared Diamond that one of the reasons the Europeans had such rapid success as conquerors was that Europe had more domesticable species, giving them advantages in animal power and agriculture. While this still appears to hold true for animal species, it no longer seems credible for plant species.
As a gardener who has an interest in the origin of species like potatoes, tomatoes, corn, squash, avocados, beans, sweet potatoes, and many others, I feel foolish for having accepting this notion. But I like wheat and rice, and I think my dietary preferences clouded my perception.
If you're a science fiction writer (and a few of you are
), then this book might be an interesting study of a clash of alien cultures. I wonder, do science fiction writers read much history with the intent of finding source material? Probably someone like Harry Turtledove does, but in general?