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The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean

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The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Situated at the intersection of Europe, Asia, and Africa, the Mediterranean Sea has been for millenia the place where religions, economies, and political systems met, clashed, influenced and absorbed one another. David Abulafia offers a fresh perspective by focusing on the sea itself: its practical importance for transport and sustenance; its dynamic role in the rise and fall of empires; and the remarkable cast of characters--sailors, merchants, migrants, pirates, pilgrims--who have crossed and recrossed it.

Ranging from prehistory to the 21st century, The Great Sea is above all the history of human interaction across a region that has brought together many of the great civilizations of antiquity as well as the rival empires of medieval and modern times. Interweaving major political and naval developments with the ebb and flow of trade, Abulafia explores how commercial competition in the Mediterranean created both rivalries and partnerships, with merchants acting as intermediaries between cultures, trading goods that were as exotic on one side of the sea as they were commonplace on the other. He stresses the remarkable ability of Mediterranean cultures to uphold the civilizing ideal of convivencia, "living together," exemplified in medieval Spain, where Christian theologians studied Arabic texts with the help of Jewish and Muslim scholars, and traceable throughout the history of the region.

Brilliantly written and sweeping in its scope, The Great Sea is itself as varied and inclusive as the region it describes, covering everything from the Trojan War, the history of piracy, and the great naval battles between Carthage and Rome to the Jewish Diaspora into Hellenistic worlds, the rise of Islam, the Grand Tours of the 19th century, and mass tourism of the 20th. It is, in short, a magnum opus, the definitive account of perhaps the most vibrant theater of human interaction in history.

Review:

"Known as the 'Corrupting Sea' for the way the dense web of commercial relationships spanning its shores inexorably changes local cultures, the Mediterranean has seen the rise and fall of many of the world's great empires, aided in the spread and propagation of the three great monotheistic faiths, and carried countless millions of immigrants and adventurers to a new life or a watery grave. This epic tome by Abulafia, a professor of Mediterranean history at Cambridge, is a political history of the Liquid Continent — another of the sea's monikers — tracing how the spread of ideas, goods, cultures, and armies across the sea has helped shape the modern world. Engagingly written, precisely documented, and liberally studded with tales of the fantastic and absurd, the book has much to offer the casual reader and is indispensible for specialists in the region. In such an expansive work, however, occasional frustration regarding the rapidly changing cast of thousands is inevitable, and nearly every page contains minor details deserving their own entire books. Abulafia's central thesis, that human cultures shape their own destinies rather than live beholden to the currents, climate patterns, and natural ecosystems described by Fernand Braudel, the other great chronicler of the Mediterranean, is convincing. Maps. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

Connecting Europe, Asia, and Africa, the Mediterranean Sea has been for millennia the place where religions, economies, and political systems met, clashed, influenced and absorbed one another. In this brilliant and expansive book, David Abulafia offers a fresh perspective by focusing on the sea itself: its practical importance for transport and sustenance; its dynamic role in the rise and fall of empires; and the remarkable cast of characters-sailors, merchants, migrants, pirates, pilgrims-who have crossed and re-crossed it.

Ranging from prehistory to the 21st century, The Great Sea is above all a history of human interaction. Interweaving major political and naval developments with the ebb and flow of trade, Abulafia explores how commercial competition in the Mediterranean created both rivalries and partnerships, with merchants acting as intermediaries between cultures, trading goods that were as exotic on one side of the sea as they were commonplace on the other. He stresses the remarkable ability of Mediterranean cultures to uphold the civilizing ideal of convivencia, "living together."

Now available in paperback, The Great Sea is the definitive account of perhaps the most vibrant theater of human interaction in history.

Synopsis:

Situated at the intersection of Europe, Asia, and Africa, the Mediterranean Sea has been for millenia the place where religions, economies and political systems met, clashed, and absorbed one another. In The Great Sea David Abulafia gives a sweeping account of these grand exchanges and their effects on the rise and fall of empires through the ages.

Mediterranean history has often been written as the history of the lands surrounding the sea, but Abulafia will focus his narrative on the stories of its transitory human inhabitants: the merchants, pirates, and war fleets who have sometimes gained control of the sea's exits and entrances-the Straits of Gibraltar, the Dardanelles, or the Ionian Sea-and patrolled the intervening waters to ensure that ships from rival empires or cities do not intrude. Other significant groups who have crossed back and forth include refugees, missionaries, and tourists--for example, the Jewish Diaspora that spread by sea into the Hellenistic and Roman worlds. And no history of the Mediterranean would be complete without telling of the numerous and more permanent peoples who made their homes in the many islands moored in the sea, from Sicily, the largest, to strategic dots such as the Spanish bases off Morocco, and the mass of tiny islands out of which Venice came to life.

The Great Sea is above all the history of human interaction across a space that brought together many of the great civilizations of antiquity in a "grand marketplace for the exchange of goods and ideas."

About the Author

David Abulafia is Professor of Mediterranean History at Cambridge University and the author of The Mediterranean in History.

Table of Contents

Part 1: THE FIRST MEDITERRANEAN

1: Isolation and insulation: island communities before metal

2: Copper and Bronze

3: Merchants and Heroes

4: Sea Peoples and Land Peoples

Part 2: THE SECOND MEDITERRANEAN

1: The purple traders

2: The heirs of Odysseus

3: The triumph of the Tyrrhenians

4: Towards the Garden of the Hesperides

5: Thalassocracies

6: The Lighthouse of the Mediterranean

7: 'Carthage must be destroyed'

8: 'Our Sea'

9: Old and new faiths

10: Dis-Integration

Part 3: THE THIRD MEDITERRANEAN

1: Mediterranean troughs

2: Crossing the Boundaries

3: The great sea-change

4: 'The profit that God shall give'

5: Ways across the Sea

6: The fall and rise of empires

7: Merchants, mercenaries and missionaries

8: Serrata - Closing

Part 4: THE FOURTH MEDITERRANEAN

1. Would-be Roman emperors

2. Transformations in the West

3: Holy Leagues and unholy alliances

4: Akdeniz - the battle for the White Sea

5: Interlopers in the Mediterranean

6: Diasporas in despair

7: Encouragement to others

8: Views through the Russian prism

9: Deys, beys and bashaws

Part 5: THE FIFTH MEDITERRANEAN

1: Ever the twain shall meet

2: The Greek and the unGreek

3: Ottoman exit

4: A tale of four and a half cities

5: Mare Nostrum - again

6: A fragmented Mediterranean

7: The Last Mediterranean

Appendix: The physical Mediterranean

Product Details

ISBN:
9780195323344
Author:
Abulafia, David
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Author:
null, David
Subject:
Oceanography
Subject:
Earth Sciences - Oceanography
Subject:
Europe - Eastern
Subject:
History, World | European
Subject:
Oceanography-General
Subject:
World History-Eastern Europe
Publication Date:
20111031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
40 halftones, 2 inserts
Pages:
816
Dimensions:
6.6 x 9.4 x 2.5 in 2.8 lb

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The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean Used Hardcover
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Product details 816 pages Oxford University Press, USA - English 9780195323344 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Known as the 'Corrupting Sea' for the way the dense web of commercial relationships spanning its shores inexorably changes local cultures, the Mediterranean has seen the rise and fall of many of the world's great empires, aided in the spread and propagation of the three great monotheistic faiths, and carried countless millions of immigrants and adventurers to a new life or a watery grave. This epic tome by Abulafia, a professor of Mediterranean history at Cambridge, is a political history of the Liquid Continent — another of the sea's monikers — tracing how the spread of ideas, goods, cultures, and armies across the sea has helped shape the modern world. Engagingly written, precisely documented, and liberally studded with tales of the fantastic and absurd, the book has much to offer the casual reader and is indispensible for specialists in the region. In such an expansive work, however, occasional frustration regarding the rapidly changing cast of thousands is inevitable, and nearly every page contains minor details deserving their own entire books. Abulafia's central thesis, that human cultures shape their own destinies rather than live beholden to the currents, climate patterns, and natural ecosystems described by Fernand Braudel, the other great chronicler of the Mediterranean, is convincing. Maps. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , Connecting Europe, Asia, and Africa, the Mediterranean Sea has been for millennia the place where religions, economies, and political systems met, clashed, influenced and absorbed one another. In this brilliant and expansive book, David Abulafia offers a fresh perspective by focusing on the sea itself: its practical importance for transport and sustenance; its dynamic role in the rise and fall of empires; and the remarkable cast of characters-sailors, merchants, migrants, pirates, pilgrims-who have crossed and re-crossed it.

Ranging from prehistory to the 21st century, The Great Sea is above all a history of human interaction. Interweaving major political and naval developments with the ebb and flow of trade, Abulafia explores how commercial competition in the Mediterranean created both rivalries and partnerships, with merchants acting as intermediaries between cultures, trading goods that were as exotic on one side of the sea as they were commonplace on the other. He stresses the remarkable ability of Mediterranean cultures to uphold the civilizing ideal of convivencia, "living together."

Now available in paperback, The Great Sea is the definitive account of perhaps the most vibrant theater of human interaction in history.

"Synopsis" by , Situated at the intersection of Europe, Asia, and Africa, the Mediterranean Sea has been for millenia the place where religions, economies and political systems met, clashed, and absorbed one another. In The Great Sea David Abulafia gives a sweeping account of these grand exchanges and their effects on the rise and fall of empires through the ages.

Mediterranean history has often been written as the history of the lands surrounding the sea, but Abulafia will focus his narrative on the stories of its transitory human inhabitants: the merchants, pirates, and war fleets who have sometimes gained control of the sea's exits and entrances-the Straits of Gibraltar, the Dardanelles, or the Ionian Sea-and patrolled the intervening waters to ensure that ships from rival empires or cities do not intrude. Other significant groups who have crossed back and forth include refugees, missionaries, and tourists--for example, the Jewish Diaspora that spread by sea into the Hellenistic and Roman worlds. And no history of the Mediterranean would be complete without telling of the numerous and more permanent peoples who made their homes in the many islands moored in the sea, from Sicily, the largest, to strategic dots such as the Spanish bases off Morocco, and the mass of tiny islands out of which Venice came to life.

The Great Sea is above all the history of human interaction across a space that brought together many of the great civilizations of antiquity in a "grand marketplace for the exchange of goods and ideas."

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