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Empire: How Spain Became a World Power, 1492-1763
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Empire is a truly academic work, in the sense that it presents us with the dark side of the Empire, without pretending that Spain of five centuries ago should be judged by modern standards. What Spain did wrong, and there is plenty, is presented as simple fact, and placed in the context of how human beings behaved in that time period.
The two minor flaws I see in the book are these: Empire reminds us, rightly, that many who worked for Spain were not Spaniards, however, too much can be made of this. The men involved thought they were working for the Spanish Empire, their successes were attributed to that Empire, and benefitted that Empire. Where Spain's soldiers were born is interesting, but not quite as important as the author believes. Still, he can be forgiven for over-emphasizing in this book something that is ignored in others.
The other flaw is a lack of consistency in applying this underlying principal to other countries in their dealings with Spain. When the Spanish Empire faces other powers, whether in the old world or the new, the troops of those powers are typically treated as homogenous masses. Surely, if Spain's men were not all Spanish, and that is important, then the makeup of the forces opposing Spain should also be investigated...
Still, the book is the very readable story of one of the greatest empires in european history. It deals with the worst aspects the Empire without either condoning them or descending into moralistic chest-thumping. If you're interested in the subject matter, you'll enjoy this book.
It is the virtue of Henry Kamen's book that he shows this to be an illusion. Kamen is one of the leading historians of Spain and the last decade has been a prolific one for him, since he has also written an important study of the counter-reformation in Catalonia, biographies of Philip II and Philip V, as well as a revision of his book on the Spanish Inquisition. In Kamen's new book he shows that Spain was always a poor country on the periphery of Europe. How then did it dominate much of the world? The short answer is that it didn't really, and it had a lot of help to dominate what it did.
People tend to think that the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella created a united Spain. Not true. What it did was create a system in which the various territories and regions that made up Spain were ruled by a common monarch. But each region, as well as much of the rest of the Spanish empire, had its own sets of privileges and local assemblies. No unified Spanish state existed in 1492 and would not for centuries to come. The result was that Spain had no coherent bureaucracy and could never have formed its vast armies on its own resources and populations.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Lots of interesting surprises.
Incredibly well researched and well written. Outstanding scholarship.
This generally excellent work presents a detailed revisionist view of the Spanish Empire with tremendous detail about its internationalist origins and with detailed descriptions... Read morePublished on April 1, 2011 by RYoast
This book was not exactly what I was looking for, and not what I expected after reading about it on Amazon. Read morePublished on March 29, 2011 by R. Boland
Very disappointing; Mr. Kamen is another undercover Anglophile propagating Anti-Spanish and Anti-Catholic views fabricated by the English and other Protestant Europeans since the... Read morePublished on June 1, 2010 by Chris DeVaas
Taking into consideration this book and Kamen's following work, Disinherited, the Greco-Persian Wars come to mind. Read morePublished on February 18, 2010 by A. Rodriguez
This book has been a disappointment to me. I expected a well balanced revisionist work. What I found is an attempt to re-write history for political motivations. Read morePublished on January 30, 2010 by Martul
Henry Kamen's prejudices against his main subject of study- Spain- are well known. What is really surprising is that he is still considered to be a serious historian at all. Read morePublished on November 26, 2008 by Aranda