Top positive review
19 people found this helpful
on November 9, 2011
One of the best books I read in 2011, it's hugely entertaining, but also serious history. It reads like a novel, full of colorful people and exotic places, clashes of East and West in battles at sea and on land over castles, with swords and gunpowder, metal armor and muskets, pirates and rebels, heroes and tyrants.
Since the book is about the first major conflict between China and Europe, it offers an opportunity to "test" why Europe came to dominate the world, and not China, one of the great historical questions. Was it because the West had superior military power? This theory has been standard for a long time, but new evidence suggests it's not so black and white. The events of the Sino-Dutch War show why. I was intrigued by Jared Diamond's blurb, and he is spot on, "you can read this as a novel that just happens to be true.. or a window into one of the biggest unsolved questions of world history." It's not often we get both these things in one book, I was sorry when it ended and tried to slow my reading.
The book is well illustrated including more maps than it needs (first time ever saw that). Generous footnotes and bibliography. Overall a great production.