"Over the course of nearly 800 pages, we follow faiths; sail with fleets; trade with bankers, financiers and merchants; raid with pirates and observe battles and sieges; watch cities rise and fall and see peoples migrate in triumph and tragedy. But at its heart, this is a history of mankind that radiates scholarship and a sense of wonder,...the Mediterranean as its medium." -- Simon Sebag-Montefiore, Financial Times
The Mediterranean Sea has been for many millennia, the cradle of great civilizations, and astounding nations, ancient moral religions, flourishing economies, and advanced social and political systems, that interacted, clashed, and influenced one another. David Abulafia offers a new vista by reflecting on the historic sea itself: its vital importance for marine transport, and its sustaining ports and fleets, in the rise and fall of empires; and substantial provision of characters; sailors, merchants, pirates, migrants, who have navigated and crossed it. Wide enough to support radically distinctive and most ancient civilizations, yet of little width, enough to ensure close contact between them. In the author's view, it was the "most vigorous place of interaction between different societies on the face of the planet".
The Midlanmd Sea is connected to the black sea and the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by South of Europe, North Africa, and the Levant, Nearest west Asia. It is almost completely enclosed by land, usually identified as a separate body of water. The name Mediterranean is derived from (Latin: medius, 'middle' and terra, 'earth'), meaning: "in the middle of the earth", or "inland sea." The Mediterranean, covers an approximate area of a million sq mile. but its connection to the Atlantic, through the Strait of Gibraltar, is hardly nine miles wide. As it has always done, this inland sea serves to join as well as divide, the paradox that provides David Abulafia, in his lavish and quite astonishing compendium, "The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean."
"The Great Sea," unlocks its rich and vigorous past, ranging from early antiquity to our time. It is a vivid record of human progress and historical interaction across its shores, that has brought together most of the greatest ancient civilizations, and the surpassing empires of medieval and modern times. Interweaving major political and naval developments with the decline and flow of trade, Abulafia explores how commercial transactions in the midland sea created both rivalries and partnerships, with merchants acting as intermediaries between cultures, trading goods that were as exotic on one side of the sea as they were commonplace on the other. He stresses the remarkable ability of Mediterranean cultures to uphold the civilizing ideal of cohabitation exemplified in late antiquity Alexandria, and medieval Spain.
Magnificently written and overwhelming in its scope, with over seventy illustrations, the study is as colorful and comprehensive as the Mediterranean world it reveals, a meeting place of many different ethnic and religious groups, covering historically everything from the Trojan War, the history of piracy, and the great naval battle between Cleopatra's fleet and Rome's, to the Jewish Diaspora scattering within the Hellenistic worlds, in Alexandria and Antioch, the rise of Islam, The crusades, and mass tourism of today. This is a magnum opus account of the most vibrant theater of human interaction in history.