"A totally absorbing book...imaginative and erudite, full of startling juxtapositions and flashes of real perception."―Jonathan D. SpenceJohn E. Wills's masterful history ushers us into the worlds of 1688, from the suicidal exaltation of Russian Old Believers to the ravishing voice of the haiku poet Basho. Witness the splendor of the Chinese imperial court as the Kangxi emperor publicly mourns the death of his grandmother and shrewdly consolidates his power. Join the great caravans of Muslims on their annual pilgrimage from Damascus and Cairo to Mecca. Walk the pungent streets of Amsterdam and enter the Rasp House, where vagrants, beggars, and petty criminals labored to produce powdered brazilwood for the dyeworks. Through these stories and many others, Wills paints a detailed picture of how the global connections of power, money, and belief were beginning to lend the world its modern form. "A vivid picture of life in 1688...filled with terrifying violence, frightening diseases...comfortingly familiar human kindnesses...and the intellectual achievements of Leibniz, Locke, and Newton."―Publishers Weekly
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John E. Wills, Jr. (1936―2017) was a longtime leader of China studies at University of Southern California and the author of many acclaimed works in cultural history, including Mountain of Fame: Portraits in Chinese History and 1688: A Global History.From Publishers Weekly:
Although he realizes that "the very concept of the world in a single year is an artificial one," USC historian Wills (Mountain of Fame: Portraits in Chinese History; etc.) has merged cultural anthropology and history to reflect through the prism of a single year the shape of the world poised on the edge of modernity. This ambitious effort has a number of strengthsAsuch as the quality of its writing and its ability to weave together disparate narrative threads. But for many readers, this account's greatest strength will be what it is notAEurocentric, limited by gender and ethnicity, confined by class. It touches on events in Africa, the New World, China, Japan, Australia and eastern and western Europe. We go from the world of the Kangxi emperor in China to that of an African Muslim slave in the New World. In constructing this multifarious history, Wills draws on sources as diverse as the correspondence of far-flung Jesuit missionaries, the records of the Dutch and English trading companies, contemporary poetry, diaries and even a ketubah (a Jewish marriage contract). Wills thus succeeds in producing a vivid picture of life in 1688Aa picture filled with terrifying violence, frightening diseases and religious and political persecution, but also with comfortingly familiar human kindnesses, familial affections and the scientific and intellectual achievements of Leibniz, Locke and Newton, among others. Wills provides a satisfying, many-faceted tour of the world in 1688 that will appeal to readers with a far-ranging curiosity about the world and its history. Illus. not seen by PW. (Jan.)
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