Seen from a satellite, Europe is a tiny peninsula hemmed in by seas. In this account, Michel Mollat examines the many ways in which Europe's proximity to the sea has affected and continues to affect its history. Ranging from ancient Greece to the present, the author traces the history of the maritime nations and their interactions, and the gradual exploration, understanding and exploitation of the entire world. He also considers the way in which dominance of the great sea lanes, first by Spain, then by Holland, and then for more than two centuries by Great Britain, materially affected the fortunes of those countries. The author describes the development and distinctive characteristics of the great European ports, the great sea battles by which European differences were frequently resolved, and the centuries-long connivance with and struggle against pirates and piracy. The author concludes with a series of portraits of those who depend on the sea for their livelihoods, from the salters and fishermen, to the in-shore and long-distance navigators, as well as of the artistic communities which have so frequently chosen the coast to develop characteristic appreciations of the natural world. This is a book which should appeal to historians and geographers, and to all those interested in maritime history.
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Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French
A study of the relationship of the seas and the European continent, this potentially useful book joins the growing literature in ecological history. Mollat (Sorbonne) outlines the role of the seas around Europe from the time of myth and legend down to the present, discussing the seas as highways of communication and transportation for people, goods, and ideas; as sources of food and employment; and as the scenes of struggles for political power. Some weaknesses damage what might have been an important work: the Asian sources of such maritime technology as the magnetic compass (brought to the West from China by Arab sailors) and the astrolabe (invented by the Muslims) are ignored. The treatment given the Byzantine and Ottoman navies is woefully inadequate. The opaque style does not make for easy reading. Ultimately, the text is too allusive for the general reader and too sketchy for the specialist.
- Bennett D. Hill, Georgetown Univ., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Blackwell Pub, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110631172270