Columbus' letters back home
March 4, 2014 7:53 PM   Subscribe

What's the best history book on the immediate aftermath of Columbus' discoveries in Europe? Looking for something that covers, say, the first 50-100 years after the discovery of the New World, and discusses what was found out & when and how people reacted.

I've been catching up on the British Museum's podcast, the History of the World in 100 objects, and the one on Durer's Rhinocerous really piqued my curiosity to learn more about that specific era, when Europeans were just learning about the peoples, flora and fauna of the New World as well as establishing direct routes to India and the Far East. I feel like I've read a fair bit about the new world's side of it, but I'm curious about the reaction in the old.

Looking for something in a Bill Bryson-ish mold if possible, something that will have a lot of the small curious details about controversies and fads and minor disputes and curiosities as opposed to big, sweeping overviews of great power politics.
posted by Diablevert to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried 1493 by Charles Mann? It is sort of a sequel to 1491, but should stand fine on its own. (Though 1491 is well worth reading as well.)
posted by fings at 8:02 PM on March 4, 2014 [6 favorites]

I have barely started 1493, but based on the strength of 1491 I can confidently recommend it as well.
posted by wotsac at 7:02 AM on March 5, 2014

I'm in the middle of 1493. I think it's fascinating.
posted by matildaben at 7:09 AM on March 5, 2014

Response by poster: Uh....not to be a nudge, but would anyone recommend anything other than 1493? It's just....and call me lightweight and a fluffhead if you like, I'll deserve it --- but I've been about a third of the way through 1491 for months now. Not because it's bad, it's well written and interesting, it's just dense. For me I find it a bit of a slog --- one of those books where the material itself is interesting but I find myself reluctant to pick it back up again once I've put it down.

I mean, I'm not looking for something the-crossword-puzzle -in-the-back-of-People-magazine light n' breezy, bring on the footnotes and citations, but just...anything a little livelier? An author with a perceptible sense of humor, wonder, irony?
posted by Diablevert at 7:31 AM on March 5, 2014

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