{KINDLE} ⚠ After Tamerlane: The Global History of Empire Since 1405 ⚸ eBook or E-pub free

Written by Oxford historian John Darwin, this is yet another of those grand sweeping books that covers centuries of world history It is also one of the best works of history I have ever read A single chapter on the history of the Middle East, for example, will give youinsight into that region than reading several years worth of New York Times op eds and a pile of axe grinding books Likewise the Soviet Union Or China Or the British Empire As vast as his scope is, Darwin does not have Written by Oxford historian John Darwin, this is yet another of those grand sweeping books that covers centuries of world history It is also one of the best works of history I have ever read A single chapter on the history of the Middle East, for example, will give youinsight into that region than reading several years worth of New York Times op eds and a pile of axe grinding books Likewise the Soviet Union Or China Or the British Empire As vast as his scope is, Darwin does not have a single integrated theory to explain the history of everything He is, however, a great story teller, an insightful analyst, and a historian in the great tradition of authors ranging from Edward Gibbon to Jared Diamond If this sounds like praise that is too overheated, well, it s a terrific book.The fact that Darwin is British is important I don t think a citizen of one of the current or recent empires, or a citizen of a country that had recently emerged from colonial status, such as an American or a Russian, could have written a book with this kind of scope or objectivity True, the British long possessed an empire, but two generations have now passed since its post WWII disintegration And it s been nearly a thousand years since the country was last conquered This makes for better historians.I ll cite just two extracts from the book that provide a good flavor of his analysis On the fall of the Soviet Union In less than half a decade this vast imperial structure the ruling power across Northern Eurasia the tenacious rival in Southern Asia, Africa and the Middle East simply fell to pieces By 1991 it was an empire in ruins There was no silver age or phase of decline just a calamitous fall He then goes on to succinctly distill the economic failings of the Soviet Union, the inability of its central command structure to adapt to consumer demand and the technological revolution, and the reason why Gorbachev s high risk strategy of reform aka perestroika i.e re structuring brought the whole system crashing down On the rise of the American imperial mindset after the fall of the Soviet Union But what would happen once the Soviet collapse brought an end to competition The American response to the end of the Cold War was to see it not as the chance to lay down an imperial burden, but as a meta historic opportunity to shape the course of world history It was hardly surprising that the seemingly unlimited scope of American ambition bred a mixed reaction Unrestrained by the need to solicit goodwill, no longer in need of its Cold War alliances, and riding the wave of ideological triumph, America seemed free to use its economic and military muscle against all opposition, and the opposition of all Talk of an America empire , previously confined to the Left, became increasingly common A universal empire, in which one state imposed it domestic laws upon all the others, was the polar opposite of the long tradition of international law that had evolved in Europe since the seventeenth century Unilateralism and universalism were harmless foibles in an isolationist power In the world s only superpower they became the chief elements of an imperial outlook That passage seems like an astute summary of the belief system that brought us to the crossroads where we stand today trying to figure out how to repair our relations with our allies, extricate ourselves from two wars, and let the rest of the world know that we re going back to honoring the Geneva convention after all.In short, I find that Darwin cuts to the heart of the matter quite brilliantly, regardless of what period of history he touches upon in dissecting 600 years of empires If a book makes me feel smarter about how the world works, I figure it s likely a pretty good book Right at the moment, I feel pretty smart Of course, I ll probably have to read it again in a couple of years to make sure my IQ does not backslide This book nicely sums up all theor less recent 1990s to about 2005 scholarship on the topic of Empires It s a great introduction to the subject for both students and general readers Unfortunately, that also proves to be the book s greatest weakness Darwin combines this overview of very different topics with quite a forceful argument of his own The former undermines the latter, as the details of his argument start to contradict each other For example, was there a globalised world e This book nicely sums up all theor less recent 1990s to about 2005 scholarship on the topic of Empires It s a great introduction to the subject for both students and general readers Unfortunately, that also proves to be the book s greatest weakness Darwin combines this overview of very different topics with quite a forceful argument of his own The former undermines the latter, as the details of his argument start to contradict each other For example, was there a globalised world ecenomy in the early part of the early modern era, albeit one which did not allow Europe to dominate, as he concludes, or was it very small and limited, as Jan De Vries, whom he quotes earlier, argues In the actual discussion of Europe s overseas trade in the 16th and 17th centuries those two views are on the opposite sides of a long standing debate Darwin just swipes that under the carpet and pretends that both sides argue the same thing, which he supposedly agrees with The same can be said about almost any other aspect of the book.Another big shortcoming of the work is that Darwin completely ignores Latin America past the initial conquest It becomes especially important as his argument about 19th century imperialism progresses Regardless of whether a coverage of independent Latin American states would have supported or contradicted it, it is needed Without such a discussion it looks like the biggest counter argument to everything he says about Europe partitioning the world After all, his main argument IS the fact that Europe physically partitioned the world only in the late 19th century rather than before However, there are two problems with that on the most basic level, a Wikipedia article would have told you that, a 600 page book is hardly necessary, and, secondly, the whole world was not partitioned after all, as an entire continent has just won political independence The internal politics of that continent in an imperialist context and the extent to which the people and political elites of those countries identified with Europe or imperialism or didn t is a very interesting question, which would have enriched the story of the expansion of Europe , told in Darwin s book Unfortunately, it would also have made it less neat, so under the carpet it goes.To sum up, it is a great book for identifying the key areas of the recent ish research on empires and colonialism all the king s men, such as including Russia or the great divergence are here but it hardly offers anything beyond that It is good for an introduction and great for preparation for the likes of paper 21 in the Cambridge Historical Tripos seriously, guys, if you re doing that paper, read it, it will make your life so much easier However, if you are actually interested in the subject of imperialism and early modern global connections, make sure to read some proper stuff afterwards To me, this is the central paragraph of this book p 490 For all the passions that they arouse, the evidence of this book is that histories founded on the rival grand narratives of exploitation and modernization have limited value as a guide to the Eurasian past That is not because we cannot find plentiful evidence of both phenomena in action But neither had a free rein Each became entangled in the politics and culture of the states and regions where its influence was felt Each was fo To me, this is the central paragraph of this book p 490 For all the passions that they arouse, the evidence of this book is that histories founded on the rival grand narratives of exploitation and modernization have limited value as a guide to the Eurasian past That is not because we cannot find plentiful evidence of both phenomena in action But neither had a free rein Each became entangled in the politics and culture of the states and regions where its influence was felt Each was forced into compromise to win over the local allies and agents without which it was usually hamstrung Both were dependent on the fluctuating conditions that favoured or deterred imperial ambition, commercial expansion and cultural assertion in different parts of the world There is no neat chronology of imperial rise and fall no neat geography of European mastery over the rest of Eurasia Nor indeed did the empire of the West come to an end in the bonfire of colonial vanities that we call decolonization History, according to Darwin, is so contingent that great narrative structures as imperialism , modernism , the Great Divergence etc are too simple Everything is so conditioned by its circumstances that you simply can t generalise According to me, in its turn, this is far too exaggerated by Darwin I think every historian really has to generalize and seek for patterns and use theories, BUT he she mustn t forget history is always made in very precise circumstances, and broader contexts that are always very specific So this bulcky volume contains lots of flaws, but all in all it remains an impressive work Seeabout this in my SenseofHistory account on Goodreads A enjoyable read It explores the explosion of European empires, and their subsequent fall, in the context of previous dominant regimes Very interesting insights, and it certainly challenged my perceptions of the British Empire in particular. I gave up on this book after a littlethan 100 pages So what made me dislike this book To explain I will compare it to a favorite big picture history book of mine, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy What makes that book great First, it has well defined theory, which is summed up by the term imperial overreach After 100 pages I don t really know what the theory in After Tamerlane is I ve been given a lot of reasons why the west was not yet ready to take on the I gave up on this book after a littlethan 100 pages So what made me dislike this book To explain I will compare it to a favorite big picture history book of mine, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy What makes that book great First, it has well defined theory, which is summed up by the term imperial overreach After 100 pages I don t really know what the theory in After Tamerlane is I ve been given a lot of reasons why the west was not yet ready to take on the rest of Eurasia as late as the 18th century, the latest reason when I stopped reading being that their military forces were geared towards fighting other forces of the same kind This latest idea is presented without going into enough detail to be convinced unless you already know the story as well as John Darwin I could say the same thing about every idea presented in the book, but the sad fact is that I don t remember anything else, as there is no overarching theory which ties everything together, like in Paul Kennedys book As far as I remember, Kennedys book also had a better narrative This may be because Kennedy is better at presenting his ideas, but it could also be that After Tamerlane tries to cover too much Kennedy focuses on one power at a time the domininant western power in each period and the conflicts tied to that powers rise and fall, whereas Darwin covers the whole of Eurasia, all the time Even though I read a lot of history books, there is just too much in Darwins book that is skimmed over for me I would need a muchdetailed narrative to be able to appreciate his arguments As it is this book gave me nothing There is no narrative and no grand theory that I will remember from this book Even the one idea I presented above about military forces in the west will probably be forgotten in a week It is easy to see why this is an award winning look at empire and it is not limited to just the European empires, and its breadth covering six hundred years of history yet readable without being overloaded It helped give me an insight to the spread of empires and how they are nothing new and what and how different cultures managed or lived through them.There are no assumptions made in the book and does not take the view that the West would always become dominant This is a wondeful book if you It is easy to see why this is an award winning look at empire and it is not limited to just the European empires, and its breadth covering six hundred years of history yet readable without being overloaded It helped give me an insight to the spread of empires and how they are nothing new and what and how different cultures managed or lived through them.There are no assumptions made in the book and does not take the view that the West would always become dominant This is a wondeful book if you want a clear and consise vew of global history and it is worth reading This book is the opposite of Nial Ferguson who says Britain created the modern world, Darwin argues that all empire building created the world of today its good and bad, and that no empire was meant to last forever Was Europe s domination of the modern international order the inevitable rise of a superior civilization or the piratical hijacking of an evolving world system A little of both, and a lot of neither, this ambitious comparative study argues because world history s real center of gravity sits in Eurasia Historian Darwin The End of the British Empire contends that an ascendant Western imperialism was a sideshow to vast, wealthy and dynamic Asian empires in China, Mughal India, the Ottoman Middl Was Europe s domination of the modern international order the inevitable rise of a superior civilization or the piratical hijacking of an evolving world system A little of both, and a lot of neither, this ambitious comparative study argues because world history s real center of gravity sits in Eurasia Historian Darwin The End of the British Empire contends that an ascendant Western imperialism was a sideshow to vast, wealthy and dynamic Asian empires in China, Mughal India, the Ottoman Middle East and Safavid Iran which proved resistant to Western encroachment and shaped the world into the 21st century Europe s overseas colonial empires as well as the expansions of the United States across North America and Russia across Siberia was not inevitable, but rather a slow, fitful and often marginal enterprise that didn t accelerate until the mid 19th century Darwin analyzes the technological, organizational and economic advantages Europeans accrued over time, but shows how dependent their success was on the vagaries of world trade the driving force of modern imperialism, in his account and the internal politics of the countries they tried to control Nicely balanced between sweeping overview and illuminating detail, this lucid survey complicates and deepens our understanding of modern world history Almost six centuries of world history in less than 500 pages without discussion this is a tour de force , particularly if someone does that with the necessary depth and a large erudition That is certainly the case for this book the footnotes and the bibliography are nothing short of impressive After having intensely read After Tamerlane , spread over three months, I have gained plenty of new knowledge, nuances and insights For that reason alone he deserves quite a few stars However, I do Almost six centuries of world history in less than 500 pages without discussion this is a tour de force , particularly if someone does that with the necessary depth and a large erudition That is certainly the case for this book the footnotes and the bibliography are nothing short of impressive After having intensely read After Tamerlane , spread over three months, I have gained plenty of new knowledge, nuances and insights For that reason alone he deserves quite a few stars However, I do have serious issues with this work 1 Starting with the title After Tamerlane refers to the last Mongol ruler who in the 15th century created a classic nomadic empire and lost it in record time , after which the course was free for imperia modern style I have the impression that this starting point is chosen very randomly, since these other empires were there yet China, India or in the case of the Western colonial empires appeared only much later.2 Darwin explains nowhere what he exactly means by the notion empire , which is convenient for him, because so he can grasp a lot of historical phenomena under one denominator One single time he gives a definition of imperialism , as the dominance of one State over another through integration in the political, economic or cultural structure The result is that Darwin uses the term for a wide variety of phenomena like the Inca empire, the British colonial empire, the Soviet empire and the American empire this is especially curious because Darwin indiscriminately lectures other scholars who don t take into account the specificity of historical phenomena.3 the history of the world is an imperial history, a history of empires , this bold statement at the end of the book, should come as no surprise given the perspective of Darwin, but it is at least a strong and controversial form of reductionism Economy is strongly reflected in the work, but only to the extent that it fits within imperial structures and systems the same with culture, but social phenomena remain as good as completely unmentioned.4 According to me the most troubling feature of this book is Darwin s tendency to commit ultra revisionist historiography he delivers continually criticism on current and recent theories and visions The worldsystems theory of Wallerstein is regularly heckled I think rightly so , but he aims his fiercest arrows against the Eurocentric vision, about the inevitable rise of the West, as a result of the Western lead on just about every human terrain in this of course he also refers to the Great divergence debate I don t feel up to the task to say who is right or who is wrong in this area, but Darwin commits the error to be constantly hyper correcting without being consistent in almost every paragraph he underlines how minimalistic the Western dominance over the world was, how late it came, how strong the resistance against it was, and how quick it vanished and thereafter he just gives a thorough and dry description of the phenomenal growth of Western dominance on just about any terrain 5 as a consequence Darwin is regularly contradicting himself just one example in chapters 2 and 3 he regularly emphasizes how the colonies in America were insignificant in the rise of Europe, but in Chapter 4 the Atlantic connection is called the engine of the European dominance over Eurasia I could continue for a while.From Darwin s final chapter, I understand that he especially wanted to give insight in the contingency of history nothing is forever, what happens is chained to very specific circumstances and contexts and is therefore necessary transient , and I think that s very arguable and for a historian even his Unique Selling Proposition Only, Darwin is holding to that vision so convulsively that he seems to throw overboard almost all the great theories and schemes Now, according to me, even an historian needs a bit of these theories and schemes to understand history, carefully adjusting them to reality in a long, continual process I think science even historical science proceeds that way, as in a dialectical system that eventually leads to a higher level of understanding.Don t understand me wrong this is really a valuable book Take for instance Darwin s plea to take seriously the large non Western civilizations and to not underestimate their resilience, that is a firm and essential message, as it turns out at the beginning of the 21st century Pity that he remains blind for the fact that these civilisations or states, or empires draw their renewed force essentially from taking over crucial elements of Western modernity in a adjusted way of course {KINDLE} æ After Tamerlane: The Global History of Empire Since 1405 ⚝ A Rise and Fall of the Great Powers for the post Cold War era a brilliantly written, sweeping new history of how empires have ebbed and flowed over the past six centuries I found AFTER TAMERLANE to be an endlessly fascinating book, but I have to confess that its scope and ambition have left me a little unsure whether I m qualified to review it That is, at least on such minor matters as Darwin s command of the relevant academic literature, and whether he fairly characterizes opposing viewpoints, I m a little at a loss I can say that when it comes to Darwin s treatment of American history, which I do know a little bit about, I thought his judgments were concise a I found AFTER TAMERLANE to be an endlessly fascinating book, but I have to confess that its scope and ambition have left me a little unsure whether I m qualified to review it That is, at least on such minor matters as Darwin s command of the relevant academic literature, and whether he fairly characterizes opposing viewpoints, I m a little at a loss I can say that when it comes to Darwin s treatment of American history, which I do know a little bit about, I thought his judgments were concise and even surprising American history, particularly pre 20th century, tends to be written as if America existed in a vacuum, with occasional exceptions when America is conquering Mexico or something Placing American expansion into a global context shines new light on how America development was dependent on European diplomacy and high finance in a way that was often invisible to the American political establishment Darwin is primarily interested in placing the rise of Western imperialism in a broader context He argues that even as late as 1750 it was hardly inevitable the Ottoman Empire had stabilized its borders Qing China was reaching new heights of power, prestige and prosperity even isolationist Japan was prospering from the development of the internal economy Europe had been plagued by repeated religious and dynastic wars, which meant that Britain wasinterested in checking France and vice versa than either was in exploiting the wealth of Asia Meanwhile, European powers did not have anything that Asian consumers were terribly interested in buying, which restricted trade to a trickle.That all this would change was hardly inevitable One could hardly have imagined that the revolutionary fervor that killed Louis XVI and the military genius of Napoleon would lead to aor less stable alliance of conservative European powers, permitting powers like Britain, America and Russia to expand without worrying overmuch about another general European war Similarly, China s Jiangnan region was as prosperous, productive and densely populated as Western Europe, and yet Britain s economy sparked an industrial revolution and China s did not.Darwin further argues that the successes of European imperialism were less thorough going than they appeared at the time or since For example, China suffered repeated humiliations, invasions and internal rebellions from the 19th century on, but the territorial gains that Qing emperors made during the 18th century were largely intact by the time that Mao took over mainland China in 1949.AFTER TAMERLANE is not always an easy read it is densely written and requires a lot of attention, and his argument is hard to summarize I ve only just scratched the surface of it above But at the same time if the educated layman is willing to put in the effort the book is filled with insights, and I often found myself reading about, say, Russian expansion into Asia and wishing that I could read a whole book about that topic alone And there s something that often s breathtaking about the connections he draws between seemingly disparate regions One paragraph, on the rejection of Western ideas following the First World War, ties together Japanese militarists, the Chinese New Life Movement, Mahatma Ghandi and Jomo Kenyatta I really enjoyed reading this book, and I expect to dipping back into it again and again as the years go by