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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 18 commentaires
31 internautes sur 32 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Outstanding 2 août 2014
Par R. Albin - Publié sur
Format: Relié
This impressive book is a highly ambitious and very successful attempt to explore the major features and complexities of 19th century global history. Readers should have clear expectations and understanding of Osterhammel's aims before starting to read it. This is not a conventional narrative survey. To get the most out of this rich text, a decent prior knowledge of 19th century history, including both Western and non-Western regions, is necessary. Similar knowledge of 18th and 20th century events is useful as well. If you don't know, for example, something about the Taiping Rebellion or Meiji Restoration at the level of reading surveys of Chinese and Japanese history, you're likely to be at sea for parts of the book. Osterhammel's goal is to move past the basic narratives to explore major similarities and differences in the increasingly interdigitated world that emerged in the course of the 19th century. While some will find this off-putting (see some of the other Amazon reviews), this feature and Osterhammel's remarkable depth of knowledge provide an unprecedented view of the 19th century. Osterhammel is also a fine writer (and appears to be translated very well by Patrick Cammiler) with a talent for telling language.

My recommendation is that readers start with the first 3 chapters, and then read the final, short, interpretative concluding chapter, followed by the rest of the book. The book opens with 3 chapters called Approaches that deal partly with theoretical-historiographic questions and also with how residents, so to speak, conceptualized many aspects of the world they inhabited. This is, to a considerable extent, a exploration of the "mentalites" of the 19th century but also a discussion of our present strengths and limitations in analyzing the 19th century past. I suspect many readers will find parts of these sections excessively theoretical but they are actually quite important and very thoughtful. Grasping Osterhammel's points in these sections really enhances reading of the following chapters. The short concluding chapter returns concisely to some of the issues raised in the first 3 chapters and contains an explicit identification of some important and distinctive themes that Osterhammel sees as emerging from his remarkably broad discussions of many regions and societies. Reading this concluding section may help to navigate some of the data-rich discussions in the great majority of chapters in the book. Osterhammel identifies 5 major themes of 19th century history - asymmetric efficiency growth, increased mobility, asymmetric reference density, tension between equality and hierarchy, and emancipation. Its beyond the scope of a short review to discuss what Osterhammel means by these themes, but asymmetric efficiency growth, for example, encompasses such phenomena as industrialization, increasing state power, and the institutionalization of scientific research. Understanding what Osterhammel means by these themes and how he explores them is one of the chief delights of this book.

The great body of the book is divided into 2 sections; Panoramas and Themes. The chapters in the Panoramas section are broad and deep discussions of important phenomena across the globe and including analyses of how these things changed during the 19 century. Osterhammel discusses demographic changes, international migration, living standards and material culture, the dynamic nature of cities, the importance of frontiers and frontier-settler states, the fate of traditional and nomadic socities, the role of imperial states, international politics, political revolutions across the globe, and the changing nature of the state. The Themes chapters isolate a few key areas for discussion. These include industrialization per se, the growth of scientific knowledge, changes in social structures, religion, and racism and related concepts.

All chapters are impressive in terms of many comparisons and analyses across the globe. Osterhammel's erudition is remarkable and each chapter is considerably more than an interesting accounting of similarities and differences. Osterhammel has many, many shrewd analyses of general phenomena driven by his impressive knowledge. His discussions, for example, of the nature of empires and its relationship to emerging nationalism, what constitutes a political revolutioni, and the importance of the modern university are strong cases in point. As a really nice bonus, the bibliography is outstanding.

There are a few minor defects. As is usually the case, the publisher has scrimped by using endnotes, rather than footnotes. Maps and well chosen illustrations would have enhanced the book. Like most historians, Osterhammel relies primarily on verbal descriptions. He uses some tables but more use of appropriate charts and tables would allow concise presentation of important data. These are, however, very minor complaints about a really first-rate book.
34 internautes sur 38 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Long Century 17 mai 2014
Par Christian Schlect - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
While this scholarly non-heroic book is a project to read, it is rewarding. Professor Osterhammel, a German, commands a vast array of facts in his attempt to describe the various major forces at work during the long 19th century. (His bibliography is longer than the listings contained in some village telephone books.)

Industrialization, state building, frontiers, urbanization, colonialism, religion are among the themes covered in this work. While an attempt is made to draw information from all quarters of the world, the main thrust of the material, especially towards the book's end, seems to me generated from a European perspective, with suitable nods to the U.S., the Ottoman Empire, China, India, and Japan.

I do think someone without much prior reading of history will find this book very difficult to wade through, given its many cursory references to important actors and major events.
16 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A book that breaks the dogma of writing history 5 octobre 2014
Par Shirwan Mirza, MD - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I am reading a library copy until my purchased one arrives. It sounds strange to me that some readers reject a book based on its length. This is a long book (1167 pp) in small font. In a regular font, it would be at least 2000 pages. I found none of its content redundant. This is for me, as a doctor, a pocketbook, compared to the massive medical tomes I am used to. One should learn how to read massive books. You deal with it as if it was a gold mine and you go on a hunt for things your mind craves. If you are on a quest for gold, don't expect it on the surface. It is not a fiction to be read from page one to the end. Also, history has always been written in a dogmatic way. From a certain year to another and focusing on boring rulers and wars without looking at the undercurrents that move and shape life in those periods of time. Juergen Osterhammel is not a usual historian. He doesn't care how other historians approach history. He is going against the current of traditional way of looking at history as a series of wars or treaties. This book is an interplay of human as it collides with life itself, a collision of human psyche with complexity of life, religion, economy, architecture, science, culture. music, opera, language....................... even the charisma of the rulers has been discussed as a factor in shaping historical events. History is not science, it is an art of analyzing past events in the most accurate ways and it is always tinged with the biases of the narrators and the analyzers. Which history book addresses memory and self-observation? What is space? what does "far east" or "far asia" mean? What was the living standards of different countries at a specific time of history? What do cities say about the people of a certain era? What frontiers did people of a specific century explore?What international order existed? Why do we have to look at history only focusing on the most prosperous nations without looking at the conquered nations and how they perceived their conquerors? How did religion and race shape history? What was the GDP of different states at that time? what was the education system of different countries in the 19th century? The role of photography or lack thereof in shaping our perception of historical figures?
what economic tactics did Napoleon deploy? What was 19th century like in every single country of this planet? 1000s of little things like these have been discussed in this book. I would say this book is a revolution in its approach. You could criticize its content, but the major strength of this book is its size (I love massive books), and its novel approach that irks dogmatic minds.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
All Readers who Finish this book Should be Granted a Phd ... The Widest Perspective on a Globalising Epoch 4 novembre 2014
Par bbb000 - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This is one big A.. book to read but i am better informed ...

It's a big book in every sense: more than 900 pages of text, a quarter more again in the form of notes, bibliography and index. It will also be a challenging read for those who expect to be carried smoothly from decade to decade or from region to region as the book proceeds. His arrangement is topical, owing more stylistically to historical sociology than narrative history, so we get chapters on the, what i understand, as the framework of this type of Historical method. Part 1 is tiltled "Approaches".

The second part of the book is concerned with what Osterhammel calls “Panoramas”, in which he explores “eight spheres of reality”: mobilities, living standards, cities, frontiers, empires and nations, international organisations, revolutions and the state. Uniquely compared with any time before or since, the 19th century was the era of diasporas and migrations on a massive scale. It was a time when expanding cities and closing frontiers, in different but complementary ways, presented unprecedented challenges and opportunities, and when white men hunted and slaughtered wildlife across the globe on a scale – and with relish – that seem incomprehensible today. It was a period when nationalism, and the cult of the nation, reached new levels; but for most of the world, the default mode of organisation was in fact empire. It was an age of revolutions the like of which had never been seen before; but while those at the beginning were interconnected (the American, the French and the Haitian), those that took place in mid-century (among them the Indian “Mutiny”, the Taiping rebellion and the American civil war), and those that occurred in the 1890s (including Russia, China and Iran) were largely separate upheavals. And it was a time when many monarchies reinvented themselves (though not all: Ex China), while progress towards democracy was geographically confined for men and even more circumscribed for women.

Osterhammel’s final section is entitled “Themes”, in which he offers brief discussions of big topics that are more sketchily treated than “Panoramas”. As befits an expert on China, he constantly reminds us that throughout the 19th century, and across the whole world, agriculture was far more important than industry as an employer of labour; but he is also well aware that it witnessed the unprecedented development and diversification of “global capitalism”, in part made possible by the extraordinary revolution in communications thanks to railways, steamships and the telegraph. He has fascinating things to say about schooling and universities, and about the rise of “world languages” and “big” science; and he devotes a late chapter to exploring the ambiguities and contradictions of the west’s “civilizing mission”, the emancipation of slaves and serfs, and the rise of racial thinking and of race-based regimes (such as the American south).

Only in his final chapter does he get to religion – which is not easily reconciled with the claim he makes there that it occupies “center stage in a global history of the nineteenth century”; but he has valuable observations about the belated growth of religious tolerance in Europe (in the early modern period non-western societies had more readily accepted diversity), and the almost total failure of British and American missionaries to convert the “heathen” in India and China to Christianity, why,did they ever think they could?.

In closing, an age of such panoramic creations deserves a chronicler with suitably panoramic inclinations. It has found a very able one in Jürgen Osterhammel.
72 internautes sur 99 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
For a specialist audience only 14 mai 2014
Par Jackal - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I am not terribly impressed by this extremely verbose book on the history of the 19th century. The book has around 1,100 pages, but with a normal font size and line spacing, the book would have close to 2,000 pages! The book consists of some 15 free standing thematic chapters (e.g. cities, knowledge, networks, the state, living standards, frontiers). I have so far only read the "cities" and "knowledge" chapters, but since the chapters are free-standing I believe I can still provide a review.

Potential readers should be aware of the academic term "global history" before buying the book. The basic idea is that all parts of the world are important and having a Eurocentric approach is bad. The author has accepted that this is the way to write history. There is absolutely no attention paid to writing an engaging and fluid history. It is more the writing of a cautious lawyer; too afraid to express any opinion about the true complexity of history. Economic and political history are extremely marginalised. Arguably, those domains of history are of utmost importance to understand the past.

I would say that the book is impossible to read unless you already have a good understanding of 19th century history. Then this book can be an interesting cross-reference. Without prior knowledge, the book will just be an endless accumulation of facts. There is very little context and understanding, because economics and politics are not considered underlying forces. Personally, I think this is a problem with the global history approach. Trying to include everything means that nothing is accomplished. It would have been hard to write the same book about Europe alone. Including other cultural traditions on an equal footing is too too much. I think in 20 years time, historiographers will look back with some amusement how s***-scared authors were to present a narrative.

A related problem with the book is the writing. In the chapter on cities we get minute details about different kind of cities (e.g. ports, beach resorts, capitals, industrial, cultural, railway connection). The author has a non-enviable ability to make the simple complicated. It all lies in the language that is extremely verbose. In many ways the language is more similar to sociology than history. I know that the book is already long, but I wish the author would have included visual presentation methods (e.g. pictures, tables).

Finally, I point out that the footnotes are endnotes. This is something I really hate. Please put the footnote on the page so that I can see what source is being referenced. Spending 15 sec to find a footnote is just too much when you have 3,000 footnotes (~12 hours extra work). Such lack of attention to detail is just irritating. If I read something interesting, I would like to spend one second finding the source.

I still give the book three stars, because there are nuggets of information. Quite often the author also has thoughtful episodic comments to make. I will revisit the review after I've read a few more selected chapters. My guess is that I might lower the review to two stars.
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