Global Crisis

Global Crisis : War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century

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Revolutions, droughts, famines, invasions, wars, regicides - the calamities of the mid-seventeenth century were not only unprecedented, they were agonisingly widespread. A global crisis extended from England to Japan, and from the Russian Empire to sub-Saharan Africa. North and South America, too, suffered turbulence. The distinguished historian Geoffrey Parker examines first-hand accounts of men and women throughout the world describing what they saw and suffered during a sequence of political, economic and social crises that stretched from 1618 to the 1680s. Parker also deploys scientific evidence concerning climate conditions of the period, and his use of 'natural' as well as 'human' archives transforms our understanding of the World Crisis. Changes in the prevailing weather patterns during the 1640s and 1650s - longer and harsher winters, and cooler and wetter summers - disrupted growing seasons, causing dearth, malnutrition, and disease, along with more deaths and fewer births. Some contemporaries estimated that one-third of the world died, and much of the surviving historical evidence supports their pessimism. Parker's demonstration of the link between climate change and worldwide catastrophe 350 years ago stands as an extraordinary historical achievement. And the contemporary implications of his study are equally important: are we at all prepared today for the catastrophes that climate change could bring tomorrow?

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Product details

  • Hardback | 904 pages
  • 160 x 238 x 70mm | 1,379.98g
  • Yale University Press
  • New Haven, United States
  • English
  • 0300153236
  • 9780300153231
  • 53,546

Review quote

"One of the books I found most informative and most perversely enjoyable this year is Geoffrey Parker's Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century. It deserves, and rewards, careful reading."-Jane Smiley, Harper's -- Jane Smiley Harper's "Mr. Parker tells [the story] with verve... [his] novel interpretation, emphasizing climate instead of individual agency, helps to explain socio-economic change and revolution in ways that future historians will inevitably have to take into account."-Wall Street Journal Wall Street Journal "The author sets out to examine a century in which weather patterns radically altered and political, social and economic crises seemed to engulf every part of the world. What relationship does a changing climate bear to global stability? There could scarcely be a more timely question to ask. Parker deploys a dazzling breadth of scholarship in answering it."-Dan Jones, The Times -- Dan Jones The Times "In his monumental new book ... Parker's approach is systematic and painstaking ... giv[ing] us a rich and emotionally intense sense of how it felt to live through chaotic times."-Lisa Jardine, Financial Times -- Lisa Jardine Financial Times Received an Honorable Mention for the 2013 American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE), in the European & World History category. -- PROSE Awards American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence Winner of the Society for Military History 2014 Distinguished Book Award for the best book-length publication in English on non-United States military history. -- Distinguished Bok Award Society for Military History "Global Crisis is a magnum opus that will remain a touchstone in three areas for at least a generation: the history of the entire globe, the role of climate in history, and the identification of a major historical crisis in the seventeenth century ... Wide-ranging, monumental works of history are rare; this is one of them."-Theodore K. Rabb, Times Literary Supplement -- Theodore K. Rabb Times Literary Supplement "In this vast, superbly researched and utterly engrossing book, Parker shows how climate change pushed the world towards chaos ... Parker's book is not merely powerful and convincing, it is a monument to scholarly dedication."-Dominic Sandbrook, The Sunday Times -- Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times "Global Crisis is the production of a scholar...who has reflected on what he knows long enough to take on the double task of synthesis and breakthrough...Parker regales the reader with some wild and grim tales, interleaved with thoughtful reflections from those who lived through the crises. A more genial geode to disaster one couldn't hope to find. We shall need more of these in the future."-Timothy Brook, Literary Review -- Timothy Brook Literary Review "[T]his monumental work by the distinguished historian Geoffrey Parker ... is a formidable piece of scholarship that goes beyond it's evident grand scale and ambition as a work of synthesis ... This book is scholarly and readable, bursting with fully documented examples and authoritative coverage of a vast swathe of 17th-century history, written on a broad canvas but accessible and compelling. It represents a worthy distillation of several decades of Parker's scholarship, and should provide food for thought for academic historians and interested readers alike." -Penny Roberts, BBC History Magazine -- Penny Roberts BBC History Magazine "This is indeed a superb and harrowing book, well worth reading for the skill with which Parker summarises the history of pretty well the whole world ... a fascinating contribution to history." -Christopher Booker, The Spectator -- Christopher Booker The Spectator "The clarity with which Parker, a British historian, has assembled a wealth of material makes this long book difficult to put down. The entire world of the 1660s seems only a heartbeat away." -Patricia Anderson, The Australian -- Patricia Anderson The Australian "A must read that shows how climate change 350 years ago can serve as a harbinger of the possible human consequences of today's rapidly changing climate. Essential. All levels/libraries."-Choice Choice "[A] staggeringly researched, rivetingly written and intellectually dazzling book... I expect it to be read and debated for decades to come."-The Sunday Times The Sunday Times "A work of formidable erudition and scope from a renowned British authority on early modern history."-The Financial Times Financial Times "My big book of the year has been Geoffrey Parker's Global Crisis on the disastrous war-torn 17th century. It fills in gaps, gives different perspectives - not least on Scotland during the Civil War - and opens new areas of history to explore."-Catriona Graham, The Guardian -- Catronia Graham The Guardian "...a brilliant and mulifaceted approach to the global 17th century."-Robert E. Scully, S.J., America Magazine -- Robert E. Scully, S.J. America Winner of a 2014 British Academy Medal. -- Medal The British Academy 'This is a colossal book, literally and metaphorically. Reading it reminded me of the exhilaration of first reading Braudel's Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II. Parker's book has the same combination of rich detail, global reach and a simple but powerful argument that can change how we see an entire period. Like Braudel's, Parker's writing is deft, vivid and rich enough to carry the reader along on the book's grand tour of the chilly, conflict-ridden world of the "General Crisis"'.-David Christian, Macquarie University (Sidney, Australia), Journal of Military History -- David Christian Journal of Military History 'It is rare that one reads a history book so compelling and so stimulating that one forgets to eat, but that was my experience with Geoffrey Parker's magnificent Global Crisis, a magisterial, near 900-page study of the world in the 17th century that centres on the relationship between climate and human conflict.'-Paul Lay, History Today -- Paul Lay History Today "Parker's great book challenges all future political and military historians to integrate the study of tree rings and glacier cores into their work. And it challenges his readers to think hard about whether humanity in the 21st century will be any less vulnerable than it was in the 17th to sudden disruptions of the environment on which we depend for our subsistence fully as much as did our ancestors of 400 years ago."-David Frum, senior editor, Atlantic, Best Books of 2014 -- David Frum Atlantic "Parker's book amounts to a heady challenge for all historians of the early modern world, none of whom have put as much stock in climate variables, and few of whom can write about the big picture with the authority that he brings."-J.R. McNeill, Public Books -- J.R. McNeill Public Books "This colossal study accomplishes something the epics of Gilgamesh and Noah never could; It convincingly links a truly global climate disaster to an epidemic of wars and rebellions that shook the whole world."-American Historical Review American Historical Review

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About Geoffrey Parker

The winner of the 2012 Heineken Prize for History, Geoffrey Parker is Andreas Dorpalen Professor of History and Associate of the Mershon Center at The Ohio State University. He lives in Columbus, OH.

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