The Great Sea by David Abulafia – review. David Abulafia’s history of the Mediterranean takes in ancient empires and modern tourists. For over three thousand years, the Mediterranean Sea has been one of the great centres of civilization. David Abulafia’s The Great Sea is the first complete. The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean is an award-winning book by the British historian David Abulafia. First published in , it is a history of.

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Archaeologists sorting through the remains of an Etruscan settlement on the mouth of the Po found some artwork so bad that the anonymous pseudo-Attic artist has been given the name “the Worst Painter”. I read this book at the same time as the newer book “The Silk Roads” from Frankopan and compared them. To purchase, visit your preferred ebook provider.

Maybe it’s because of the book’s format. I have virtually nothing to which I can compare it. The history of the Mediterranean is one of human triumph and tragedy that repeats over and over again simply because human beings are human beings.

The first 80 pages has been a chore to read.

The book never felt long, and virtually every page is evidence of the author’s deep knowledge about, and deep love for, the sea. It seems to me that this so much classist tripe that is a manufactured nostalgia of second generation post-exiles of westernized, wealthy elites, but what do I know? Ever the davjd shall abhlafia 2: That Abulafia finds room for such an episode in a book of such ambitious scope shows how impressive his achievement is.

He stresses the remarkable ability of Mediterranean cultures to uphold the civilizing ideal of convivencia”living together. That was when I got irritated enough to stop reading.

The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean by David Abulafia

An important theme, solid research, magnificent writing and a perceptive insight into human nature Situated at the intersection of Europe, Asia, and Africa, the Mediterranean Sea has been for millenia the place where religions, economies, and political systems met, clashed, influenced and absorbed one another.


To give you some idea: In Pictures – the story of love and romance: While the book is fairly long, it is very well written and is structured in short, highly accessible sections that pull you from one topic to the next.

There is very little here about Mediterranean ecology, which has loomed large in previous accounts. It’s a good historical survey that makes me want to track down other more specific books to learn more. Smoking Typewriters John McMillian. As part of the narrative, Professor Abulafia includes information about people whose lives illuminate the developments he is describing: But in any general history book, we can easily skip over things either because we already know it or because that specific era or topic is not of particular interest at the moment.

Mar 18, Riku Sayuj rated it really liked it Shelves: Highly recommendable to anyone who wants an overview of the history of the Mediterranean or wants to hear the story of Western civilisation from a slightly different vantage-point, since the Great Sea was indeed the cradle of what we today call “the West”. The rise of Islam.

The style made me think of a curmudgeonly academic who occasionally throws chalk dusters at dozing first years.

The Great Sea by David Abulafia – review

This interaction of people drawn from vastly different societies is what the author believes made the Mediterranean such an important contributor to human civilization, even if its relative importance has declined in the modern era. There’s just a lot of archeological speculation, no sense of narrative at all.

Empires rise and fall, great cities wax and wane; but for the west at any rate, the major constant from antiquity to at least the 16th century was the sea whose name even now pronounces it the centre Latin medius of the world terra. There is so much here that you risk brain overload. Abulafia purposefully tries to limit the scope of his book by sticking to subjects that impinge directly on the Mediterran After reading Norwich’s A History of VeniceI looked at his other books, and saw one on the Mediterranean that looked interesting.

Ranging from prehistory to the 21st century, The Great Sea is above all a history of human interaction.


The triumph of the Tyrrhenians 4: I learned a lot from this grrat but there’s definitely too much to take in from a single reading. Show 25 25 50 All. Venice itself is dying under the flood of touristsa sad fate for what was one of the most powerful cities in the Mediterranean only a few centuries ago. This book painted a new picture of traders and even sometimes “tourists” travelling all over the Sea. That is the strength of narrative histories that are also thematic.

My biggest concern was that this would be a huge survey that did not hold together well – a sort of mega cliffs notes.

The third and second-to-last chapters are depressing, as they cover the destruction of several multicultural communities in the lead up to WWI through the aftermath of WWII. It doesn’t mean anything to me, as a modern reader, whether Genoa or Carthage is ascendant at a given moment in the ‘s or what. The Mycenaean civilization was destroyed so thoroughly that the Greeks forgot how to writethe king of Ugarit wrote a frantic letter for aid on a clay tablet but the city was crushed into dust before it could be fired and delivered, the Hittite Empire collapsed and its capital was burned to the ground and never reoccupied, Troy was burned twice, and in Egypt the Pharaoh wrote about previously unknown “Sea Peoples” which had attacked Egypt and were defeated in battle Davidd to Book Page.

What is distinctive about this book is that it offers, as the subtitle puts it, a “human history”. In spite of this admirable pluralism, however, a Mediterranean-centred view of history can slide into eurocentrism; for while the cities of the “European” coasts have always been orientated primarily towards the sea, their eastern and abulafai counterparts have also faced inland towards Asia, Africa and Arabia.