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Empire: How Spain Became a World Power, 1492-1763by Henry Kamen
Synopses & Reviews
How did a barren, thinly populated country, somewhat isolated from the rest of Europe, establish itself as the world's first superpower? Henry Kamen's impressive new book offers a fresh and highly original answer.
Empire is a global survey of the two and a halt centuries (from the late fifteenth to the mid-eighteenth) in which the Spaniards established the most extensive empire the world had ever known, ranging from Naples and the Netherlands to the Philippines. Unlike previous accounts, which have presented the Empire as a direct consequence of Spanish power, this provocative work of history emphasizes the inability of Spain to run an imperial enterprise by itself The role of conquest was deceptive. Spain's rise to power was actually made possible by the collaboration of international business interests, including Italian financiers, German technicians and Dutch traders, in the task of setting up networks of contact ranging across the oceans. At the height of its apparent power, the Spanish Empire was in reality a global enterprise in which non-Spaniards — Portuguese, Basque, Aztec, Genoese, Chinese, Flemish, West African, Incan and Neapolitan — played an essential role. It is this vast diversity of resources and people (which included many of its greatest adventurers and soldiers) that made Spain's power so overwhelming.
There is no better account in English of this time. Henry Kamen's book provides a highly relevant analysis of the origins and nature of imperial power, and of global economic activity. Challenging, persuasive and unique in its thesis, Empire explores Spain's complex impact on world history with admirable clarity and intelligence.
Book News Annotation:
This book was published as by Penguin in 2002. Kamen's historical analysis of the two and a half centuries in which the Spanish Empire ruled the world portrays Spain as a global enterprise that grew because of collaboration with German technicians, Dutch traders, and Italian financiers who helped create a vast network of contacts ranging across the oceans. Kamen (Higher Council for Scientific Research, Barcelona) further asserts that the empire could not have functioned without the support of non-Spaniards including Basque, Aztec, Chinese, Flemish, and West African influences. The book contains several maps and color photos of paintings. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Includes bibliographical references (p. 567-576) and index.
This is a history of large forces moving sometimes of their own accord and by their own logic Well written and exactingly researched.
About the Author
Henry Kamen was educated at Oxford, has been professor at universities throughout the UK, USA and Spain and was until recently professor of the Higher Council for Scientific Research, Barcelona. His books include Philip of Spain (1997), The Spanish Inquisition (1998), and Empire: How Spain became a World Power (HarperCollins, 2003). He lives in Spain and the United States.
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