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Who Was First? Discovering the Americas

by Russell Freedman

Published by Clarion, 2007
88 pages
ISBN: 9780618663910

Ages 11-15

With an even hand, Russell Freedman presents several theories about who were the first people to “discover” the Americas, while acknowledging that many were already living here when Columbus and other explorers arrived. A chapter about the journeys of Christopher Columbus is followed by accounts of Chinese travelers of the 1400s, the voyages of Leif Erikkson and the Vikings around the year 1000, and the Native Americans’ long presence in the Americas. A final chapter looks at archeological evidence of prehistoric humans in the New Mexico area about 13,500 years ago, and firepits found near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, dating back 18,000 years, which takes the mystery back even further in time. “Recently uncovered sites . . . in South Carolina and . . . Brazil hint that migrants may have been coming to the Americas for as long as 50,000 years—far earlier than any previously known human presence.” While making it clear that scientists do not agree on any single answer to the question of who was first, Russell Freedman opens the window to a wide range of thought-provoking theories.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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