The Great Sea

The Great Sea : A Human History of the Mediterranean

3.89 (1,244 ratings by Goodreads)

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Connecting Europe, Asia, and Africa, the Mediterranean Sea has been for millennia the place where religions, economies, and political systems met, clashed, influenced and absorbed one another. In this brilliant and expansive book, David Abulafia offers a fresh perspective by focusing on the sea itself: its practical importance for transport and sustenance; its dynamic role in the rise and fall of empires; and the remarkable cast of characters-sailors, merchants, migrants, pirates, pilgrims-who have crossed and re-crossed it. Ranging from prehistory to the 21st century, The Great Sea is above all a history of human interaction. Interweaving major political and naval developments with the ebb and flow of trade, Abulafia explores how commercial competition in the Mediterranean created both rivalries and partnerships, with merchants acting as intermediaries between cultures, trading goods that were as exotic on one side of the sea as they were commonplace on the other. He stresses the remarkable ability of Mediterranean cultures to uphold the civilizing ideal of convivencia, "living together." Now available in paperback, The Great Sea is the definitive account of perhaps the most vibrant theater of human interaction in history.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 783 pages
  • 139.7 x 208.28 x 55.88mm | 839.14g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • Maps; Halftones, color
  • 019931599X
  • 9780199315994
  • 436,943

Review quote

"This magnificent book... is teeming with colourful characters. Over the course of nearly 800pp, we follow faiths; sail with fleets; trade with bankers, financiers and merchants; raid with pirates and observe battles and sieges; watch cities rise and fall and see peoples migrate in triumph and tragedy. But at its heart, this is a history of mankind - gripping, worldly, bloody, playful - that radiates scholarship and a sense of wonder and fun, using the Mediterranean as its medium, its watery road much travelled." -- Simon Sebag Montefiore, Financial Times"This memorable study, its scholarship tinged with indulgent humour and an authorial eye for bizarre detail, celebrates the swirling changeability at the heart of that wonderful symbiosis of man and nature which once took place long Mediterranean shores" -- Jonathan Keates, The Sunday Telegraph"An Everest of a book, brocaded with studious observation and finely-tuned scholarship...the effect is mesmerising, as detail accumulates meticulously." -- Ian Thomson, The Independent"David Abulafia's marvellous history of the Mediterranean is an excellent corrective to oversimplified views of geopolitics." -- The Economist"New, highly impressive book...magisterial work..." -- Prospect"Engagingly written, precisely documented, and liberally studded with tales of the fantastic and absurd, the book has much to offer the casual reader and is indispensible for specialists in the region." -- Publishers Weekly"This monumental and extraordinarily rich book stands alongside Braudel, Horden, and Purcell's works as one of the seminal works on the history of the Mediterranean and on world history. This is truly a major achievement, a great book by a truly great historian." --Teofilo F. Ruiz, UCLA"A superbly panoramic blend of political, social, and environmental history that simultaneously situates the physical reality of the Mediterranean in the reader's mind and its
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About University Lecturer in History David Abulafia

David Abulafia is Professor of Mediterranean History at Cambridge University and the author of The Mediterranean in History.
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Rating details

1,244 ratings
3.89 out of 5 stars
5 28% (348)
4 43% (532)
3 21% (266)
2 6% (76)
1 2% (22)
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