I finished reading 1493 by Charles C. Mann and the big idea that I got from the book was this: Most of my life I have looked for primary causes that have affected my decision
Cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
making in areas of my life but I have not looked at the secondary causes which I have not even considered. Think about Columbus coming to America in 1492 and the invasion of the Europeans and what we learned in school about this. An interesting quote from the book made me realize that I really got a minimal education about this:
“Much of the great encounter between the two separate halves of the world,” Mann observes, “was less a meeting of Europe and America than of Africans and Indians.”
This above quote had never even entered my thought process until I read this book. The other areas of interest such as disease and the intermingling of the races prove to be of significant interest also. I am so glad I analytically read this and I more than highly urge you to go get this book and read it!!!
Back in October of 2012, I wrote about the steps of syntopical reading but now I wanted to go more in depth. The first requirement of any syntopical reading project is understanding that more than one book is needed in answering a particular question and the second requirement is finding the books necessary to read in an inspectional way to receiving the knowledge that you need in answering your question.
So, to me, syntopical reading is bringing together all the books necessary and reading them in an inspectional way and not an analytical way because the analytical way would take years to read them in this particular way and get the answers you are looking for.
As I have stated in a previous post, syntopical reading is about you and your concerns, not the books that you read.
Right now I am currently analytically reading 1493
Reading a book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Charles C. Mann and I am deciding if there are questions in which I want more information. First, I must decide the questions I want answered and then proceed to building a bibliography for inspectional reading purposes in order to answer these questions. More tomorrow on this subject.
On Page 190 Mr. Mann is discussing erosion in the Loess Plateau region of China and I believe this is a perfect example of Communism and its stupidity.
“Because erosion removed nutrients, harvests in the newly planted land dropped quickly. To maintain yields, farmers cleared and terraced new land, which washed away in turn—a perfect example of a “vicious cycle,” according to Vaclav Smil, a University of Manitoba geographer who has long studied China’s environment (his first book on the subject, The Bad Earth, appeared in 1984). Erosion into the Huang He went up about a third during the Dazhai era, Chinese researchers reported in 2006.
English: Photo of Vaclav Smil Français : Photo de Vaclav Smil (Photo credit: Wikipedia, appeared in 1984). Erosion into the Huang He went up by about a third during the Dazhai era, Chinese researchers reported in 2006.
The consequences were dire and everywhere apparent. Declining harvests on worsening soil forced huge numbers of farmers to become migrants. Zuitou lost half of its population. “It must be one of the greatest wastes of human labor in history,” Smil told me. “Tens of millions of people being forced to work night and day, most of it on projects that a child could have seen were a terrible stupidity. Cutting down trees and planting grain on steep slopes—how could that be a good idea?”
I am loving this book because of it changing my thought process about what affects things. How the environment affected history is astounding to me especially in the area of food and disease. I would like to carry this over to other problems and really look at the causes, not just the first line causes but the second and third line.
Location of Jamestown, Virginia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On Page 62 the author has a fascinating chart showing the number of English who came to Virginia from 1607 to 1624. The author, Charles C. Mann admits that it is his best attempt to calculate the number of people who actually came and the number of survivors. By 1624 the number of arrivals to Jamestown, Virginia was approximately 7,000 give or take several hundred and the survivors totaled a little over 1,000. In other words, over 6,000 English lost their lives coming to America in that time frame. This was most likely too low according to the author’s notes of ship-by-ship count.
My question is this and I honestly I do not know the answer why the people kept coming. I keep going back to something I learned that people move toward pleasure and away from pain. However, this makes me ask this question: Were the people’s situation so horrendous in England that they “thought” that there situation could only be better in Jamestown? Did they believe that they were invincible to the harsh circumstances that they were going to endure in the Chesapeake Bay? What motivated these people, considering that you know they knew the risks, to do this?
The reason I wanted to reread 1493 was to look at history in a different way and transfer that thinking to how I handle problems in business and other areas of my life. On page 6 there are some quotes that give a perfect example of what I am talking about in the areas of economics, biology, ecology and many other areas.
“Newspapers usually describe globalization in purely economic terms, but it is also a biological phenomenon; indeed, from a long-term perspective it may be primarily a biological phenomenon.”
“The most important changes brought on by the Columbian voyages were biological in nature.”
This book looks at Columbus in a totally different way than what I was taught in school and most of all looks at the invasion of America in a way that hopefully will make it thought-provoking by looking at it totally different than I had previously. I want to carry this over to problem-solving in other areas. That is my goal in rereading this book.
I have not read this book for over a year and a half and thought that I would reread it and look at it in a different way. When I read a book the first time it is generally to pick up the main points in what the author is attempting to get across. The second time is usually analytically as I have previously discussed in this blog.
This time with 1493 I am trying to look at the various ties between people, countries and ecology in understanding the relationship and how they progressed between each other. An example is how after Columbus came to the Americas how quickly The Columbian Exchange took off. How China within eight decades had established trade and how a new world was created both economically and biologically. That is what I am hoping to determine: How this happened and why so quickly and the dynamics of these relationships?