How Maritime Trade and the Indian Sub-Continent Shaped the World by Nick Collins

ARRSE Rating
4.00 star(s)
Ice Age to the Mid-Eighth Century

I have to start by saying this book is not in my usual reading comfort zone, but it is a well written version of events covering a huge period of human existence. This is book one of three! The scale of the task is huge running from the northern parts of Europe, through the Mediterranean to India and the Far East, all before the Suez Canal of course.

The book is somewhat academic in style, but very readable, nonetheless. The author has done a very good job in taking such a large subject, breaking it down into the relevant parts with loads of little bits of information dropped in. One such is about how the various types of tribes/clans etc worked and lived. The adventurous maritime traders were like the alpha-male while the farmer tribes were lower in the pecking order. As such, while maritime traders would take famers daughters as wives, this would not happen the other way round. It is little vignettes like this that keep the story human.

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The first Chapter – Philosophy and Themes - is the author’s view on history, how he approached this subject and how he decided to include which bits. In itself this is a very interesting look at how historians work, gather their information and interpret it. This Chapter sets up the whole book very nicely.

The following Chapters chart the start of maritime trade, the rise of Sea Lords and their effect on the development of the human on this planet. It would be remiss of me as a very poor academic to try and summarise these Chapters but the author does this in a very easy reading style, for which I am most grateful.

The Mediterranean though takes centre stage in this area of human development and the author devotes several Chapters to this area, dealing with Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Roman, Greeks, Levantines and others surround the “Middle of the World Sea”. The final Chapters move east to the Indies and the Far East taking the story up to the 8th Century. As I said, this is just book one of three.

In the final Chapter, the author explains how the old adage “plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose” or as the author puts it “Continuity and Change”.

The book is 358 pages long with vast amounts of information crammed in yet not in a boring way. The bibliography is 10 pages long so should you wish to take further……….

The author is to be congratulated in bring such an interesting book which helps to start to explain why we enjoy our lifestyle today.

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