1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
Why this book?
1491 changed my life and my understanding of the early Americas, and it’s the touchstone text for anyone fascinated by the richness and complexity of the continent prior to the arrival of European invaders, exploiters, and settlers. It spends due time on the Inca, Aztec, and Maya civilizations, but where the book really shone for me was in its description of the perhaps less widely known peoples of North America, and especially the magnificent Mississippian culture of Cahokia, a mound-building city of 20,000 people located where St. Louis is now, and the other cities and towns along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Even before I finished 1491 I knew I needed to learn more about Cahokia, and likely feature the city and its people in fiction.