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The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World
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The Sea and Civilization: A Maritime History of the World [Format Kindle]

Lincoln Paine
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  • Longueur : 784 pages
  • Langue : Anglais
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Descriptions du produit


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 ca...

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)

Présentation de l'éditeur

A monumental, wholly accessible work of scholarship that retells human history through the story of mankind's relationship with the sea.

An accomplishment of both great sweep and illuminating detail, The Sea and Civilization is a stunning work of history that reveals in breathtaking depth how people first came into contact with one another by ocean and river, and how goods, languages, religions, and entire cultures spread across and along the world's waterways.

Lincoln Paine takes us back to the origins of long-distance migration by sea with our ancestors' first forays from Africa and Eurasia to Australia and the Americas. He demonstrates the critical role of maritime trade to the civilizations of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and the Indus Valley. He reacquaints us with the great seafaring cultures of antiquity like those of the Phoenicians and Greeks, as well as those of India, Southeast and East Asia who parlayed their navigational skills, shipbuilding techniques, and commercial acumen to establish vibrant overseas colonies and trade routes in the centuries leading up to the age of European overseas expansion. His narrative traces subsequent developments in commercial and naval shipping through the post-Cold War era. Above all, Paine makes clear how the rise and fall of civilizations can be traced to the sea.

Biographie de l'auteur

 Lincoln Paine is the author of four books and more than fifty articles, reviews, and lectures on various aspects of maritime history. He lives in Portland, Maine, with his wife, Allison.
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