February 14, 2013 Charles C. Mann to Deliver Sixth Kislak Lecture, on Post-1492 World

New Book Is “1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created”

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Charles C. Mann, winner of the National Academy of Sciences’ Keck Award for best book of the year (“1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus”), will deliver the sixth Jay I. Kislak Lecture on his recent best seller, “1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created.”

The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 7, in the Coolidge Auditorium, ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not needed. The Library’s John W. Kluge Center is sponsoring the program with co-sponsors the Center for the Book, the Hispanic Division and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

In “1493” Mann deftly demonstrates how what has been described as “the most momentous biological event since the death of the dinosaurs” -- Columbus’ landfall in the Americas -- underlies much of human history since. Presenting the latest research by ecologists, anthropologists, archaeologists and historians, Mann shows how the creation of a worldwide network of ecological and economic exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa and for two centuries made Mexico City -- where Asia, Europe and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted -- the center of the world. In such encounters, Mann uncovers the germ of today’s fiercest political disputes, from immigration to trade policy to culture wars.

Columbus’ exploration of the Americas is the reason there are tomatoes in Italy, oranges in Florida, potatoes in Idaho, chocolates in Switzerland and chili peppers in Thailand. More important, creatures the colonists knew nothing about hitched along for the ride. Earthworms, mosquitoes and cockroaches; honeybees, dandelions and African grasses; bacteria, fungi and viruses; rats of every description—all of them rushed like eager tourists into lands that had never seen their like before, changing lives and landscapes across the planet.

Mann is a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, Science and Wired magazines, and he has covered the intersection of science, technology and commerce for many publications worldwide, including BioScience, The Boston Globe, Fortune, Geo (Germany), The New York Times (magazine, op-ed, book review), Panorama (Italy), Paris-Match (France), Quark (Japan), Smithsonian, Der Stern (Germany), Technology Review, Vanity Fair and The Washington Post (magazine, op-ed, book review).

In addition to “1491” and “1493,” he has co-written four other books: “The Second Creation: Makers of the Revolution in 20th-Century Physics” (1986; rev. ed., 1995); “The Aspirin Wars: Money, Medicine and 100 Years of Rampant Competition” (1991), “Noah’s Choice: The Future of Endangered Species” (1995) and “@ Large: The Strange Case of the Internet’s Biggest Invasion” (1998). He has also written for HBO and the television show “Law and Order.” A three-time National Magazine Award finalist, Mann has received writing awards from the American Bar Association, the American Institute of Physics, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Margaret Sanger Foundation and the Lannan Foundation (2006 literary fellowship).

The Kislak Lecture is a component of the Kislak American Studies Program, established at the Library of Congress in 2004 by the Jay I. Kislak Foundation. Previous lecturers were Jared Diamond, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Michael Coe, Jonathan Spence and David Stuart.

In addition to the lecture series, the Kislak gift includes an important collection of books, manuscripts, historical documents, maps and art of the Americas. A permanent rotating exhibition of materials from the Kislak Collection, “Exploring the Early Americas,” (myLOC.gov/Exhibitions/EarlyAmericas/), opened in December 2007. The Kislak gift also provides for fellowships to study its materials.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.


PR 13-029
ISSN 0731-3527