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The Age of Reconnaissance: Discovery, Exploration, and Settlement, 1450-1650 Paperback – January 8, 1982


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (January 8, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520042352
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520042353
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #621,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Peter J. Adams on October 10, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book because of the favorable review it got in the American Historical Association's Guide to Historical Literature. It is definitely a serious academic work (published by University of California Press) but accessible to the general reader. It makes no attempt to offer interesting anecdotes or historical tidbits but gives an insightful look at early European voyages of "discovery, exploration, and settlement" through 1650.

Part I details the technological, social, political, and economic factors that led to the explosion of Europe onto the world scene with lots of space being dedicated to technologies of sailing, mapping, navigation and (not least of all) fighting. The second part is straight narrative outlining the history of the voyages themselves with a chapter for each destination region: Africa and the Indian Ocean, Atlantic and South Sea, America, etc... The final part discusses the empires of each of the European powers in turn: Spain, Portugal and Holland. There are also comparative chapters outlining differences in administration and economies between the empires.
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Format: Paperback
Published decades ago, this very well written book is a fine introduction to the complex topic of early European explorations and imperialism. The Age of Reconnaissance is divided into 3 sections. The first part deals with the motivations for and what might be called the technologies of discovery. Why did Europeans pursue this relatively adventurous course? Why Portugal and Spain, in particular? What were the needed intellectual technologies - piloting, navigation, and cartography? How were voyages financed? How were ships built? These topical chapters are very informative. Parry, a decorated naval officer in WWII, was clearly quite knowledgeable about many of the details of seamanship and ships in addition to his considerable knowledge of the relevant poltical and social history.

The second section is a series of narrative chapters. These cover the early Portugese explorations, the Spanish explorations and conquests in the western hemisphere, the beginnings of the British and Dutch empires, and the establishment of world-wide trading empires. These chapters are very well done, though much will be familiar to knowledgeable readers.

In the third section, Parry returns to thematic chapters with a series of interesting essays of selected topics. An expert on the Spanish Empire, he has particularly good chapters on the nature of the Spanish provinces in the western hemisphere, the somewhat different nature of the Portugese and Dutch empires, the development of plantations for tropical-subtropical products, trans-Atlantic migrations and biological exchanges, the structure of colonial bureaucracies, and the interesting response of Spanish intellectuals to empire. The latter, for example, was a major stimulus to the development of natural law and theories of international politics.

Parry was a gifted writer and this book is a pleasure to read. Its impressive how many important topics are touched upon in this broad survey.
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By bstinson68 on March 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
J.H. Parry has the unique ability because of his time in the Navy to describe the Age of Discovery in detail that paints a vivid picture. His attention to detail explains the difference between the time periods and with the advances how exploration and settlement were possible. Well written and very detailed.
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The Age of Reconnaissance: Discovery, Exploration, and Settlement, 1450-1650
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