- Paperback: 554 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press (October 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300093144
- ISBN-13: 978-0300093148
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,221,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Dynamics of Global Dominance: European Overseas Empires, 1415-1980
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From Publishers Weekly
Stanford political scientist Abernethy explains the rise, nature and collapse of European imperialism during a period of more than 500 years. How is it, he asks, that eight European nations, covering 1.4% of the earth's surface, came to control literally most of the rest of the world? Abernethy's analysis of this odd and momentous occurrence combines rich, detailed history with a keen ability to bring meaning to this history. Briefly, he finds that these European nations developed a unique set of institutionsDa strong state, expansionist economies and proselytizing religionDthat could be put to the work of imperial expansion. Together, these institutions would launch assaults not only on indigenous governing elites but also on the economies, cultures and values of the vanquished peoples. No empires before had so thoroughly penetrated the territories they conquered, writes Abernethy. Yet interstate rivalries and, ironically, the growth of Western-influenced nationalism within the colonies would finally bring the European colonial era to an end. The legacy of this era remains, however, and Abernethy spends a great deal of time delineating it as well as pondering the the important question of the morality of European colonialism. Although the text is at times rough going, and Abernethy does not avoid the penchant of social scientists to define terms in the most minute detail, attentive readers with an interest in world history and international affairs will learn much here. As globalization proceeds apace and developed and developing nations both cooperate and collide, an understanding of the origins of this modern global arena is an invaluable lesson, one Abernethy ably provides in a volume that, despite its dry title, will appeal to students of European and world history. (Jan.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
For centuries Europeans ruled vast portions of the world, as inhabitants of west European countries sailed to distant continents and took possession of territories whose societies and economies they set out to change. How and why did these farflung empires form, persist, and finally fall? David Abernethy addresses these questions in this magisterial survey of the rise and decline of European overseas empires.Abernethy identifies broad patterns across time and space, interweaving them with fascinating details of cross-cultural encounters. He argues that relatively autonomous profit-making, religious, and governmental institutions enabled west European countries to launch triple assaults on other societies. Indigenous people also played a role in their eventual subjugation by inviting Europeans to intervene in their power struggles. Abernethy finds that imperial decline was often the unanticipated result of wars among major powers. Postwar crises over colonies' unmet expectations empowered movements that eventually took territories as diverse as the thirteen British North American colonies, Spain's South American possessions, India, the Dutch East Indies, Vietnam, and the Gold Coast to independence.In advancing a theory of imperialism that includes European and non- European actors, and in analyzing economic, social, and cultural as well as political dimensions of empire, Abernethy helps account for Europe's long occupation of global center stage. He also sheds light on key features of today's postcolonial world and the legacies of empire, concluding with an insightful approach to the moral evaluation of colonialism. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Perhaps its flaw, if any, is the lack of an explanation of why or how the Europeans were able to conquer said empires. This issue is linked to one of the most controversial issues nowadays on long-term and comparative history: why Western countries have dominated the world during the last few centuries. To put it in a nutshell (quoting from J.M. Blaut, "Eight eurocentric historians"): "Europe acquired incalculable riches from the Americas after 1492. This led to the rise to political power of the merchant-capitalist class and its allies, and in many others ways led, directly and indirectly, to the awakening of Europeans to the rest of the world and the transformation of Europe's society and economy". Also on this line, "The Great Divergence", by Kennetz Pomeranz, and [according to one review I have read], Clive Ponting's world history [but I warm that I have not read this last book yet].
Apart from that, the book is excellent. By means of comparative analysis, it tries (and, as far as I am concerned, he achieves his goal) to provide a global explanations of the phases of imperial expansion and contraction, the factors accounting for imperial expansion, and then contraction, and also sets up rational criteria that may lead on the future to the moral evaluation of colonialism [he gives his own and nuanced opinion on this matter].
Perhaps, as a Spaniard myself, I would have appreciated some more analysis on the Spanish empire. It would have been very useful if Mr. Abernethy had examined and passed judgment on the Spanish Empire in America and its "Black Legend". I bet it would have been worth reading that.
I have rated it four starts. Considering its content, I think it should be five; considering its readability, three. In any event, I do recommend it to read it.