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  • Published: 3 October 2019
  • ISBN: 9780141972091
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 1088

The Boundless Sea

A Human History of the Oceans




A titanic history of the three great oceans - the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian - and of mankind's relationship with the sea from the first voyagers to the present day

David Abulafia begins with the earliest of seafaring societies - the Polynesians of the Pacific, the possessors of intuitive navigational skills, long before the invention of the compass, who by the first century were trading between their far-flung islands. By the seventh century, trading routes stretched from the coasts of Arabia and Africa to southern China and Japan, bringing together the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific, linking together half the world through the international spice trade. In the Atlantic, centuries before the little kingdom of Portugal carved out its powerful, seaborne colonial empire, many peoples sought new lands across the sea - the Bretons, the Frisians and, most notably, the Vikings, now known to be the first Europeans to reach North America. As Portuguese supremacy dwindled in the late sixteenth century, the Spanish, the Dutch and then the British each successively ruled the waves.

Following merchants, explorers, pirates, cartographers and travellers in their quests for spices, gold, ivory, slaves, lands for settlement and knowledge of what lay beyond, David Abulafia has created an extraordinary narrative of humanity and the oceans. Besides its grand narratives, The Boundless Sea explores the lesser known maritime enterprises of Denmark, Sweden, Oman, Sri Vijaya and many others. And today, as plastic refuse covers thousands of square miles of the waters, and once exotic trading cities and outposts are replaced by vast, mechanized container ports, he asks - what next for our oceans and our world?

  • Published: 3 October 2019
  • ISBN: 9780141972091
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 1088

About the author

David Abulafia

David Abulafia has written extensively on the political, economic and social history of the Mediterranean, especially Sicily, southern Italy and the Catalan world. His books, several of which have been translated into Italian, Spanish or German, include The Two Italies, A Mediterranean Emporium and The Western Mediterranean Kingdoms 1200-1500,The New Cambridge Medieval History, volume 5, c.1198-1300, which he edited, and Frederick II. He has also written over a hundred historical articles. He had lectured in several European countries and in the United States, Israel and Japan, and he regularly visits Italy for his research. He has been awarded the King Roger II Prize in Sicily for his books on the history of the island. He strongly believes that historians should attempt to convey the results of their research to a wider public. He is Professor of Mediterranean History at Cambridge University and he has been a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, since 1974.

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