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The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World (English Edition)
 
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The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Lincoln Paine
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  • Longueur : 784 pages
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Introduction
 
I want to change the way you see the world. Specifically, I want to change the way you see the world map by focusing your attention on the blues that shade
70 percent of the image before you, and letting the earth tones fade. This shift in emphasis from land to water makes many trends and patterns of world history stand out in ways they simply cannot otherwise. Before the development of the locomotive in the nineteenth century, culture, commerce, contagion, and conflict generally moved faster by sea than by land. The opening of sea routes sometimes resulted in immediate transformation, but more often it laid the groundwork for what was later mistaken for sudden change. The best example of this is the trade networks of the Indian Ocean, the oldest of which were pioneered at least four thousand years ago by navigators sailing between Mesopotamia and the mouths of the Indus River. By the start of the common era two thousand years ago, the Indian subcontinent was a point of departure and destination for merchants and mendicants from across the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. This is all but unnoticed in the written record, which boasts of no figure comparable to a Gilgamesh or Odysseus, and despite a growing body of archaeological evidence, these undertakings remain largely unrecognized. As a result, the later arrival in Southeast Asia of Muslim traders from the Indian subcontinent and Southwest Asia, of Chinese merchants of various faiths, and of Portuguese Christians seem like so many historical surprises. Only the last were absolute newcomers to the Monsoon Seas that stretch from the shores of East Africa to the coasts of Korea and Japan. The others were heirs to ancient, interlinked traditions of seafaring and trade that long ago connected the shores of East Africa with those of Northeast Asia. This book shows many similar examples of maritime regions that were quietly exploited before events conspired to thrust them into the historical limelight.

Two questions merit consideration before taking on a maritime history of the world as either writer or reader: What is maritime history? and What is world history? The answers to both have as much to do with perspective as with subject matter. World history involves the synthetic investigation of complex interactions between people of distinct backgrounds and orientations. It therefore transcends historians’ more traditional focus on politically, religiously, or culturally distinct communities seen primarily in their own terms at a local, national, or regional level. As a subject of interdisciplinary and interregional inquiry, maritime history is a branch of world history that covers obvious topics like shipbuilding, maritime trade, oceanic exploration, human migration, and naval history. Considered as a perspective, however, the premise of maritime history is that the study of events that take place on or in relation to the water offers unique insights into human affairs. The maritime historian therefore draws on such disciplines as the arts, religion, language, the law, and political economy.

An alternative and perhaps simpler way to approach the question, What is maritime history? is to tackle its unasked twin: What is terrestrial history?— the view from the land being our default perspective. Imagine a world of people bound to the land. The ancient Greek diaspora would have taken a different character and been forced in different directions without ships to carry Euboeans, Milesians, and Athenians to new markets and to sustain contacts between colonies and homelands. Without maritime commerce, neither Indians nor Chinese would have exerted the substantial influence they did in Southeast Asia, and that region would have been spared the cultural sobriquets of Indo-China and Indonesia (literally, “Indian islands”)—in fact, the latter would have remained unpeopled altogether. The Vikings of medieval Scandinavia could never have spread as quickly or widely as they did and thereby altered the political landscape of medieval Europe. And without mariners, the history of the past five centuries would have to be reimagined in its entirety. The age of western European expansion was a result of maritime enterprise without which Europe might well have remained a marginalized corner of the Eurasian landmass with its back to what Latinate Europe called Mare Tenebrosum and Arabic speakers Bahr al-Zulamat, “the sea of darkness.” The Mughals, Chinese, and Ottomans would have overshadowed the divisive and sectarian polities of Europe, which would have been unable to settle or conquer the Americas, to develop the transatlantic slave trade, or to have gained an imperial foothold in Asia.

The past century has witnessed a sea change in how we approach maritime history. Formerly a preserve of antiquarian interest whose practitioners lavished their efforts on “ancient ships and boats, ship models, images, ethnography, lexicographical and bibliographical matters and flags,” maritime history once focused chiefly on preserving and interpreting material that was readily available. This directed historians’ attention to European, Mediterranean, and modern North American maritime and naval history. Maritime accomplishment was almost always viewed as a peculiarly European phenomenon that only attained real importance with Columbus’s epochal voyage to the Americas in 1492. In this telling, the story proceeded directly and exclusively to an explanation of how Europeans used their superior maritime and naval technology to impose themselves upon the rest of the world.

Taking Europe’s “classic age of sail” from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries as a model for the rest of maritime history is seductive but inadvisable. While the global change wrought by mariners and the dynamics of maritime Europe are of unquestionable importance to a proper understanding of the world since 1500, maritime achievement is more broadly spread and its effects more complicated than such a narrative suggests. European supremacy was far from inevitable. More important, the concentration on Europe’s past five centuries has distorted our interpretation of the maritime record of other periods and places and our appreciation of its relevance to human progress. No parallels exist for the almost symbiotic relationship between commercial and naval policy—what we might call a “naval-commercial complex”—characteristic of Europe’s maritime expansion. There is nothing like it in classical antiquity, in Asia, or in Europe before the Renaissance, and by the twenty-first century the close ties between national naval strategy and maritime commerce so prevalent in this age had all but vanished. The period of western Europe’s maritime dominance was critical, but it is a misleading standard against which to measure other eras.

This Eurocentric worldview was reinforced by the widespread belief among western historians that race was a sufficient explanation for “the inequality of various extant human societies.” In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the clearest material manifestation of racial superiority writ large was maritime power and Europeans’ ability to extend their hegemony overseas to create and sustain colonial empires half a world away. This gave rise to the ahistorical generalization that there are maritime people like the Greeks and British and nonmaritime people like the Romans and Chinese. Such assumptions mask complex realities. Put another way, the extent to which different nations rely on cars or planes depends on economics, industrialization, geography, and other considerations, and no one would think of ascribing car or plane use to racial or ethnic tendencies. In reaction to this assumption of an innate European and North American superiority at sea, a number of writers attempted to redress the balance by writing explicitly ethnocentric or nationalist maritime histories about non-Europeans. While these valuable correctives exposed previously untapped indigenous writings and other evidence of seafaring by people otherwise considered to have had little or no maritime heritage, they tended to create their own versions of maritime exceptionalism.

Even as this tendency was running its course, Fernand Braudel’s magisterial The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II (1949) ushered in a new approach to maritime history. Inspired by his brilliant analysis of the interplay between geography, economics, politics, military, and cultural history, maritime historians looking past nationalist paradigms have embraced the validity of treating seas and ocean basins as coherent units of study and the past half century has seen a surfeit of works examining individual oceans and seas. This is an enlightening exercise that enables us to consider cross-cultural and transnational connections without constant reference to the mutable fiction of political borders. At the same time, we run the risk of replacing a set of arbitrary terrestrial boundaries with an equally arbitrary division of the world ocean. There is little agreement about how to parcel the waters of the world into discrete, named bodies of bays, gulfs, straits, channels, seas, and oceans, and in practice sailors rarely recognize such distinctions drafted from afar. An ancient Greek epigram acknowledges the unity of the world ocean with stark simplicity:
 
All sea is sea. . . .
Pray if you like for a good voyage home,
But Aristagoras, buried here, has found
The ocean has the manners of an ocean.
 
This book is an attempt to examine how people came into contact with one another by sea and river, and so spread their crops, their manufactures, and their social systems—from language to economics to religion—from one place to another. While I have not ignored the climactic moments of maritime history, I have attempted to put them in a broader context to show how shifting approaches to maritime systems can be read as indicators of broader change beyond the sea. I have concentrated on a few themes: how maritime enterprise enlarges trading realms that share certain kinds of knowledge—of markets and commercial practice, or navigation and shipbuilding; how the overseas spread of language, religion, and law facilitates interregional connections; and how rulers and governments exploit maritime enterprise through taxation, trade protection, and other mechanisms to consolidate and augment their power.

I have sketched this history as a narrative to show region by region the deliberate process by which maritime regions of the world were knit together.
But this is not a story of saltwater alone. Maritime activity includes not only high seas and coastal voyaging, but also inland navigation.* Islanders may have obvious reasons to put to sea, but the exploitation of freshwater rivers, lakes, and canals has been critical to the growth of countries with large continental territories. The center of North America became economically productive thanks to its accessibility via the St. Lawrence and Welland Rivers and the Great Lakes, and by the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Neither corridor could have reached its potential without the development of maritime technologies—steam power in the case of the Mississippi, and locks and dams in the case of the Great Lakes.

If the geography of water, wind, and land shapes the maritime world in obvious ways, maritime endeavor becomes a determining force in history only when the right combination of economic, demographic, and technological conditions is met. Few fifteenth-century observers could have imagined the prosperity that would accrue to Spain and Portugal as a result of their navigators’ peregrinations in the eastern Atlantic. While they sailed in search of a route to the spices of Asia, they also came upon the Americas, a source of untold wealth in the form of silver and gold; of raw materials for European markets and new markets for European manufacturers; and territory—“virgin” in Europeans’ eyes—for the cultivation of recently discovered or transplanted crops like tobacco and sugar. Papal intervention in disputes over which lands would be Portuguese and which Spanish resulted in a series of bulls and treaties that partitioned the navigation of the non-Christian Atlantic and Indian Oceans between Portugal and Spain, and helps explain why the majority of people in South and Central America are Spanishor Portuguese-speaking Catholics.

A maritime perspective complicates our understanding of the “westward” expansion of the United States. California achieved statehood in 1851, two years after the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill, when the territory was virtually unknown to Americans back east and the number of United States citizens on the Pacific coast numbered only a few thousand. Thanks to the extraordinary capacity of the American merchant marine of the day, tens of thousands of people reached San Francisco by ship, a mode of transportation that was faster, cheaper, and safer than the transcontinental journey, although the distance covered was more than four times longer. The United States conquered the interior of the continent—what are today known as the fly-over states, but at the time could aptly have been called the sail-around territories—in a pincer movement from both coasts, rather than by a one-way overland movement from the east.

Yet for the most part, if ships, sailors, ports, and trades exist, the default tendency among most writers is either to celebrate them in isolation from the world ashore, or to acknowledge them only to explain particular events such as the arrival of the Black Death in northern Italy; the voyages of the Vikings to the Caspian and Black Seas (by river) and to western Europe and North America (by sea); the Mongol invasions of Japan and Java in the thirteenth century; or various other diasporas of people, flora, and fauna. But by situating our collective relationship to oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, and canals at the center of the historical narrative, we can see that much of human history has been shaped by people’s access, or lack of it, to navigable water. For example, given non-Muslim westerners’ ingrained impression of Islam as a religion of desert nomads, it seems remarkable that the country with the largest Muslim population is actually spread across the world’s biggest archipelago. There are no camels in Indonesia, but there are Muslims, and also Hindus—especially on the island of Bali—which is especially curious when one considers Hindu prohibitions against going to sea. If these two religions are so tightly bound to the land, how did they manage to cross the ocean? Have the religions changed over time? Or are our impressions about the nature of these religions wrong? As is written in the Quran, “Do you not see how the ships speed upon the ocean by God’s grace, so that He may reveal to you His wonders? Surely there are signs in this for every steadfast, thankful man.”

These “signs” indicate that mankind’s technological and social adaptation to life on the water—whether for commerce, warfare, exploration, or migration— has been a driving force in human history. Yet many mainstream histories are reluctant to embrace this. Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies gives barely a page to “maritime technology,” by which he means watercraft and not the ability to navigate or any associated abilities. What is curious about this is that maritime traffic was central to the diffusion of many of the technologies, ideas, plants, and animals that Diamond discusses in such illuminating detail, not only between continents but also within and around them. In all but ignoring the maritime aspect of his story, he essentially overlooks both the means of transmission and, in the cases of some very important inventions, the things transmitted as well.

To take another example, J. M. Roberts’s History of the World is, according to the author, “the story of the processes which have brought mankind from the uncertainties and perils of primitive life and precivilized life to the much
more complex and very different uncertainties and perils of today. . . . The criterion for the inclusion of factual data has therefore been their historical importance—that is, their effective importance to the major processes of history rather than intrinsic interest or any sort of merit.” Roberts acknowledges inland and saltwater navigation, stressing the importance of the former, for instance, in Russia’s eastward colonization of Siberia in the seventeenth century. However, he jumps to the ends without reference to the means, or the processes. He notes that from Tobolsk to the Pacific port of Okhotsk three thousand miles away there were only three portages; there is no discussion of the vessels used, the foundation of intermediate settlements, or the impact of river trade on the development of Siberia. He does not even name the rivers, which is rather like talking about the water route from Pittsburgh to New Orleans without mentioning the Ohio or Mississippi.

Had Diamond or Roberts written a century ago, their works likely would have incorporated considerably more maritime content. That they do not reflects changes in the public perception of the maritime world, for the merchant marine and naval services no longer hold the attraction for people that they once did, when ocean liners and freighters crowded the piers of Manhattan, Hamburg, Sydney, and Hong Kong. At the start of the twenty-first century, ships and shipping lines are the warp and woof of globalization. Ships carry about 90 percent of world trade and the number of oceangoing ships has grown threefold in the past half century. But the nature of shipping has led to the relocation of cargo-handling facilities to places remote from traditional port cities, while a growing proportion of the world’s merchant fleets has been put under so-called flags of convenience—that is, owners in search of less regulation and lower taxes have registered their ships in countries not their own. As a result, ships no longer stand as emblems of national progress and prestige as they did in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Although airplanes have replaced ships in most long-distance passenger trades—transatlantic, between Europe and ports “east of Suez,” or transpacific—more than fourteen million people annually embark on a sea cruise. This is far more than ocean liners carried before the passenger jet rendered them obsolete in the 1950s, when the names of shipping companies were as familiar as (and far more respected than) the names of airlines today. The idea that people would go to sea for pleasure was almost unthinkable even 150 years ago. The cruise ship industry, to say nothing of yachting and recreational boating, owe their growth to changes in economics and technology, social reform movements that ameliorated the often wretched conditions of sea travel for passengers and crew alike, and shifts in attitudes toward the natural environment of the sea. These also gave rise to the emergence of a conscious appreciation for the sea and seafaring in painting, music, and literature, and set the conditions for people’s interest in the sea as an historical space interpreted through museums, film, and books.

In fact we live in an age deeply influenced by maritime enterprise, but our perceptions of its importance have shifted almost 180 degrees in only two or three generations. Today we see pleasure where our forebears saw peril, and we can savor the fruits of maritime commerce without being remotely aware of its existence, even when we live in cities that originally grew rich from sea trade. In considering the course of maritime history, we must account for this change and remember that our collective relationship with maritime enterprise has undergone a profound metamorphosis in only half a century.
 
The idea for this book began to take shape while I was writing Ships of the World: An Historical Encyclopedia—in essence, a collection of vessel biographies that sought to explore the reasons for certain ships’ fame or infamy and to situate them in a broader historical context. Some of these stories have obviously found their way into this work. But while ships are integral to the narrative that unfolds here, this book is less about ships per se than about the things that they carried—people and their culture, their material creations, their crops and flocks, their conflicts and prejudices, their expectations for the future, and their memories of the past. In considering the prospects for this undertaking, I have been guided by the words of the naval historian Nicholas Rodger, who has written: “A general naval history would be a prize of great value, and if the first person to attempt it should fail altogether, he may still have the merit of stimulating other and better scholars to achieve it.” The scope of this work goes well beyond naval history and entails correspondingly greater risks, but if nothing else I hope this book will inspire further exploration of this fascinating dimension of our common past.

Revue de presse

"Elegantly written and encyclopedic in scope, with an expert grasp of the demands of seamanship in every age, The Sea and Civilization deserves a wide readership. For landlocked historians, it will be a powerful stimulus to dip their toes—and perhaps their pens—in saltwater and for readers a forceful reminder that the urge to "go down to the sea in ships" has shaped civilizations and cultures in every period and in every part of the globe."

The Wall Street Journal

"A magnificently sweeping world history that takes us from the people of Oceania and concludes with the container. In contrast to most books on maritime history, the majority of The Sea and Civilisation covers the history of the world before Columbus sailed the ocean blue and at least as much of the narrative focuses on Asia as it does on Europe."

Ben Wilson, The Telegraph
 
"Paine is full of such illuminating facts. . . [He] forestalls any western bias with excellent chapters on Asian expansion. . . 'The sea held no promise for slaves, coolies, indentured servants, or the dispossessed', Paine reminds us, and while it is 'fickle and unforgiving, it is a fragile environment susceptible to human depredation on a scale unimaginable to our ancestors'. And yet, whose heart does not sing out when they see the sea? Our last resort, it still holds its promise and its power."

Philip Hoare, New Statesman
 
"Herzog once remarked: 'The feeling crept over me that my work, my vision, is going to destroy me, and for a fleeting moment I let myself take a long, hard look at myself . . . to see whether my vision has not destroyed me already. I found it comforting to note that I was still breathing.' That same quality of an all-consuming vision oozes from Paine’s book. His passion is to tell the story of the sea. History is seldom written with that kind of passion today."

—Gerard DeGroot, The Times 

“Even though the Earth’s surface is 70% water, historical narratives are usually land-centered. Paine (Ships of the World) shifts emphasis from land to water in order to correct this imbalance, an approach that takes the reader through history via the seas . . . Paine’s highly detailed work encompasses a wide array of topics, from trade and the influence of the sea on warfare and political coalitions, to ship building techniques through the ages, to piracy and slavery.  . . . Paine has compiled an invaluable resource for salty dogs and land-lubbers alike.”

Publishers Weekly, starred review

"The most enjoyable, the most refreshing, the most stimulating, the most comprehensive, the most discerning, the most insightful, the most up-to-date—in short, the best maritime history of the world.”

—Felipe Fernández-Armesto, author of Millennium: A History of the Last Thousand Years

“Paine deftly navigates the complexities of global culture to create an eminently readable account of mankind's relationship to the sea. Both profound and amusing, this will be a standard source for decades to come.”

—Josh Smith, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, editor of Voyages
  
The Sea and Civilization presents a fresh look at the global past. Bringing to bear a formidable knowledge of ships and sails, winds and currents, navigation techniques and maritime law, Lincoln Paine offers a lively tour of world history as seen from the waterline. The result is a fascinating account, full of little-known episodes and novel insights. A major contribution.” 

—Kären Wigen, Stanford University, author of A Malleable Map

"'I want to change the way you see the world.' This brave ambition is brilliantly realized by Lincoln Paine in this single volume. Thoroughly researched, clearly argued, eminently accessible—we have at last a responsible and persuasive explanation of the inextricable connection between the ocean and world civilization."

—Peter Neill, Director, World Ocean Observatory 

"The Sea and Civilization meticulously and systematically reconstructs the maritime history of the world from diverse historic records, archaeology, contemporary travelogues, languages, literature, religious texts and folklore. . . In this book we get to see some of the beautiful and interesting plates without traversing the museums and libraries of the world. . . That oceans teach us, above all, about the unity of human existence on this planet seems to be the take away from The Sea and Civilization."

The Hindu (India)

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Commentaires client les plus utiles
Par bernie
Format:Relié
I like to collect books on how commodities such as salt, cinnamon, cochineal, and indigo were developed in transported from one location to another. However we need to keep in mind that these products even though might have inspired maritime travel it is secondary to those of the people that actually did the traveling.

Lincoln Paine in "The Sea and Civilization" shows how waterways contributed to spreading many of the great cultures of mankind. One of the main parts of the book are the maps. I have a fair knowledge of where things are in the world of today and the world of antiquity. But without a clear picture the names of places are just that the names of places. So pay close attention to the maps in the book will be even more interesting.

The whole book is interesting but if I had to pick a favorite spot it would be the chapter on "The British Global Trade" once again I find it interesting looking at the maps. Conspicuously missing is the Piri Reis map.

There is an extensive bibliography and enough notes to know that Lincoln Paine knows his maritime history. We can also use the bibliography for further reading. Still this book is so compact with information that you will have to probably reread it to remember the small pieces of information that can easily be overlooked.

Green cargoes
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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  55 commentaires
42 internautes sur 46 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A very good book, on too great a topic. 26 août 2013
Par Patrick McCormack - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Certain topics yield essays that wander along the interests of the author, within the scope of the topic. A history of the Sea and Civilization is basically a survey course, and a large plum tree ripe with fruit for the picking. Regardless of the number of pages, the author is central in what he chooses to write about, and what stays by the shore and never sets sail.

This is a good book. It is well written, a compelling read. The review of the history of the sea is a review of men who go down to the sea in ships. The battles, and the explorers, are here. In some ways, this book re-creates some of Daniel Boorstin's book, the explorers, and in some ways it touches on the course of human history.

The author uses the design of boats, and the ways of navigation, as an entry point for talking about peoples and water. At some points, the focus seems to be on small boating -- canoes, reed mats... and even when we move to Egypt and boats on the Nile, the scope is more boating than it is oceans and power. I did like the way the ocean currents explain strategies of exploration, and the archaeology of the expansion of peoples.

The book opens up into discussions of trade routes, and the projection of might and empire through control of oceans.

One thing I love about this book: the author is aware of, and often shows, every single rock carving, pot, or wall image of an ancient ship ever known to man. He is an encyclopedia of the archaeology of ships. He is learned, and an omnivore.

I had recently read "The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean" by David Abulafia, and enjoyed the length and breadth of that work, while feeling that it grew tired in the telling. Here, with more to write about, I feel this book occasionally gets sketchy, in some of the Pacific chapters, and that the author has perhaps too grand a theme. The feel is more of a survey of human history, rather than a grand theme of human development through the sea.

Yet the swing is hard, even if the result is a double. I thought that the viewing of human civilization through the lens of the sea is a real, although note complete way to look at matters. Why not civilization and rivers, that old chestnut of geography classes? Civilization and the littoral would cover most of human history. The answer is the mystery of the sea, the magic of the sea, which provides a lens for this book, albeit not an entirely satisfactory historical lens.

In short, this is less of a Maritime History of the World, and is rather better described as a History of the Maritime World. And a pretty good one.
20 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Mankind's Courageous Venture Across Water 29 septembre 2013
Par Michael P. Lefand - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Man had to take to the water. He is a mobile being that has always moved from place to place seeking food, new land, fleeing aggressors or oppression, looking to trade, or simply curious about what lay over the horizon. From logs, bark, and animal hide, early man noticed that things float.

With great detail Lincoln Paine describes the development of ocean and river travel. From the raft of primitive man as he escapes the shackles of land, down to nuclear-powered ships, the reader follows the quest of opening up new horizons of trade and the cultures they nourished.

This extraordinary comprehensive narrative, packed into a little over 700 pages, did appear overwhelming, but once started I became absorbed in the story of mankind's need and desire to travel across water. The more I read the more I wanted to know and found it hard to put down. This volume will find a place on the shelf with my other history books and will more than likely be used as reference as I continue my lifetime study of history.

I recommend "The Sea and Civilization" to everyone interested in history because so much of civilization has depended on the sea and travel by water. I give it 5 stars.
16 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 "By the Sea, By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sea" - Harold R. Atteridge 3 novembre 2013
Par bernie - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
I like to collect books on how commodities such as salt, cinnamon, cochineal, and indigo were developed in transported from one location to another. However we need to keep in mind that these products even though might have inspired maritime travel it is secondary to those of the people that actually did the traveling.

Lincoln Paine in "The Sea and Civilization" shows how waterways contributed to spreading many of the great cultures of mankind. One of the main parts of the book are the maps. I have a fair knowledge of where things are in the world of today and the world of antiquity. But without a clear picture the names of places are just that the names of places. So pay close attention to the maps in the book will be even more interesting.

The whole book is interesting but if I had to pick a favorite spot it would be the chapter on "The British Global Trade" once again I find it interesting looking at the maps. Conspicuously missing is the Piri Reis map.

There is an extensive bibliography and enough notes to know that Lincoln Paine knows his maritime history. We can also use the bibliography for further reading. Still this book is so compact with information that you will have to probably reread it to remember the small pieces of information that can easily be overlooked.

Green cargoes
17 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A view from the boat 5 novembre 2013
Par Personne - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Most world histories are centered on the movements of armies, the building of cities, the taming of the land. The sea is at best an incidental part of all that. A few noteworthy events may stick in the reader's mind--the battles of Midway, Trafalgar and the loss of the Spanish Armada--but most of the course of history is land-based. Lincoln Paine changes the vantage point. Traffic on seas, lakes and rivers has equally as much to do with the spread of human civilization. This densely-packed volume begins roughly in the Old Kingdom of Egypt and brings us all the way to the present day.

I was about a hundred pages in when it dawned on me that this is really a textbook--whatever the author's intentions might be. It's a compendium of dates, kings and ship architectures. It wants to be read with a notepad on the side and a highlighter in hand; discussions to follow. The style tends toward the dry: it's impossible to do a quick read-through and then circle back for detail. Comparisons with a truly great naval writer (Samuel Eliot Morison) are not favorable in that regard. I would love to see a reduced version of this book with a more general audience in mind. As fascinating as this material is, it's really hard to stay with it. Reading and absorbing is a commitment of many weeks.

So let's consider this as a textbook. As such it's excellent. I can't imagine any serious naval officer not spending a semester with it. It could still benefit from a greater sense of concurrency, since many of the activities happen simultaneously. For example, the last centuries of Ptolemaic Egypt are concurrent with the expansion of river traffic in China. Both economies grew from navigable rivers. I'd love to have seen comparison and contrast. At the very least, a graphic timeline would be quite a plus.

I'm not sure that this is a book for the general reader in history. The material is fascinating, but a little too dense for a quick chapter before bedtime. It's an important topic nonetheless. I'd love to see it spawn a summary volume.
25 internautes sur 32 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Who, What, Where, When....But Not Much Why 19 septembre 2013
Par Andy in Washington - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
What you think of this book is really determined by how you like your history presented. If you like a chronology of events, very detailed and complete, you will fall in love with Lincoln Paine's masterwork. But if you want your history a little more spoon-fed, with the author helping you to draw conclusions and connections, it will be a long and tedious read. I fall more into the second category, thus the 3-stars.

=== The Good Stuff ===

* This is about as complete and well researched book as you will find. I was reading a review copy, with the footnotes still not complete, so it was a bit tough to match up the references and bibliography, but the one or two that I did check were very complete and reputable sources. If you ever wanted to cram the history of civilization into 600 pages, this is about as close as anyone will ever get.

* I love the premise of the book, namely that you should look at the history of maritime technology and navigation, and then work to fit the rest of history into place around it. It is somewhat of a novel concept, but makes for an interesting way to look at things. For example, one of the first chapters examines the flow of metal ores around the area of the middle east. As copper and tin ores are loaded onto boats and shipped across some distances, the bronze age really comes into its own.

* Occasionally, Paine takes a break from the detailed chronology and branches off into a discussion of technology (usually maritime technology) and examines how it came into existence and what effect it had on civilization. I found these passages to be excellent and the best parts of the book. I wish Paine would write a book with just this format (he may have, I will be checking).

=== The Not-So-Good Stuff ===

* I found the book to be a tedious read. While Paine writes in a reasonably easy-to-read style, he is prone to long paragraphs, something I have always disliked. I didn't really do a count, but 300 and 400 word paragraphs seems fairly common.

* The major issue I had with the book was the format. The vast majority of the book is a recitation of facts and events. Paine is incredibly thorough, and he will describe a series of events in incredible detail. It makes for a marvelous historical record, but it is a format that I find makes it tough to absorb much information. I much prefer a more interconnected approach- A and B happen, and therefore C occurs, which naturally leads to an increased emphasis on D, which leads to E. Instead, Paine tends to telling where and when A-E happened, but leaving the reader to draw his own connections and conclusions.

=== Summary ===

Depending on your tastes in history, you may or may not like this book. I have certainly seen few books that were more complete, better researched, or more comprehensive in their looks at history. The emphasis on the history of maritime history as a driver of the rest of history is interesting and a novel approach that caught my interest.

However, my personal taste is for more of a narrative, putting events together in a logical (rather than purely chronological) sequence, and explaining how and why things happened based on previous events.

Even if you are unable to power your way to reading the whole volume, it certainly stands on its own as a decent reference book.
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