David (orangebeaver) wrote,

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Little squirrely germs...

I was very sorry to hear that Tim Russert died. He was a nice man, and too young to go...

I'm reading the most fascinating book about the Indians in the New World. "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus" by Charles Mann talks about how there were probably more people in the Americas than Europe before the Spanish came to the New World. This brings to mind "some" of the stuff that Graham Hancock has written about, (he has since sort of lost his mind) about "lost histories" and civilizations from pre-history that have yet to be uncovered. Although some of the figures are in dispute, it appears that up to 95% of the Indians in the New World died of disease between 1492 and 1622. It's a brilliant book and prehistory of the Americas is continually being rewritten. Even cultures in the rainforest are being uncovered, (unfortunately due to deforestation) that are thousands of years old. Not just tribes with no contact with the modern world, but monumental earthworks, canals, foundations... Mann challenges some of the traditional assertions about the Spanish Conquest of Peru. It seems possible that smallpox reached the Incas before the Spanish did. One chapter talks about Hernan De Soto's weird greedy ramblings through the American South and Southwest in 1539-42, looking for El Dorado. De Soto (a murdering, raping plunderer) and his Conquistadors found huge Indian towns full of thousands and thousands of people along the Mississippi River. De Soto died of fever and his expedition ended in failure. The next Europeans to pass through the area came in 1682. The found nothing. Only the remains of long abandoned villages, bones, etc. Terrible.
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