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I'm about halfway through 1491 by Charles Mann. I think its a great book, although the chapters describing the enormity of deaths from European diseases among the indigenous population. Absolutely heartbreaking.
It's a fantastic book. It makes you realize to what extent the European settlers were moving into a post-apocalyptic landscape, since the diseases outpaced the settlers into the interior. For months after reading it I was telling everyone I saw the part about the passenger pigeons.
I also really liked this book. It may end up being one of my most memorable books of 2012. For younger readers there is also Mann's Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491.
The takeaway I got from that book is that continents that were geographically isolated from the Eurasian/African land mass were largely cleaned out of their native populations while that land mas wasn't. That is wh "indigenous cultures" still hold sway on the land mass whereas the Americas and Australia are largely white-European dominated.
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