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Great Sea,The: A Human History Of The Mediterranean Hardcover – May 17 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Hardcover, May 17 2011
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; First Edition edition (May 17 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713999349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713999341
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 5.2 x 24 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #379,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


The greatest living historian of the Mediterranean -- Andrew Roberts A towering achievement. No review can really do justice to the scale of Abulafia's achievement: in its epic sweep, eye for detail and lucid style. -- Dominic Sandbrook Sunday Times Brocaded with studious observation and finely-tuned scholarship, the overall effect is mesmerising. -- Ian Thomson Independent A memorable study, its scholarship tinged with indulgent humour and an authorial eye for bizarre detail. -- Jonathan Keates Sunday Telegraph The story is teeming with colourful characters, and Abulafia wears his scholarship lightly, even dashingly. -- Simon Sebag Montefiore Financial Times

About the Author

David Abulafia is Professor of Mediterranean History at the University of Cambridge, and a fellow of Gonville and Caius College, and was until recently Chairman of the Cambridge History Faculty. His previous books include Frederick II and The Western Mediterranean Kingdoms. He is a member of the Academia Europaea, and in 2003 was made Commendatore dell'Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana in recognition of his work on Italian and Mediterranean history.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Abulafia manages, in about 650 pages, to tell us the story of the Mediterranean. This book is truly an achievement. It is well written, pulling you into the flow of several thousand years of history without losing you in the process. Obviously, it helps to have some knowledge of different eras and peoples - Abulafia is often only able to reference a tribe or an event without going into great detail. Nonetheless, the narrative remains clear, and the organization of this book helps the reader to understand the profound changes happening as we move forward in time.

This is an admirably focused book. Abulafia resists the near-constant temptation to go wandering far afield from the Mediterranean and stays focused on that space, even when it may seem the main action is happening elsewhere. The effect is one of sharpened perspective, as we see the sweep of world history from a place that waxes and wanes in importance on the global scale.

In short, this is definitely a must-read for anyone who loves a good history read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My learned colleagues whose reviews are above have me at a disadvantage: they already knew something of the subject matter before starting to read. I didn't. I bought this book because I knew next to nothing about Mediterranean history, and wanted to learn. The author assumes that the reader is already familiar with the dozens of tribes which litter the early history of the region. What is perhaps worse, the book lacks adequate maps. Without at least one chart for each era, showing the name of each area and the identity of the group resident in it, the beginner is left completely without orientation in time and space.
In another lifetime I was a university mathematics professor, and it seemed to me that British texts and references in my subject were more demonstrations of the authors' erudition than an attempt at explication. Perhaps that approach extends to monumental works of history.
If you already know lots of Mediterranean history, this may be a good book. It is not for the uninitiated.
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Format: Hardcover
In almost 700 pages of text, the author has recounted the history of the Mediterranean Sea from the earliest times to the twenty-first century. As indicated in the book's subtitle, this is really a history of human activity throughout the ages. The topics include migration, conflicts, trade, economics, politics and much more. Depending on a given reader's particular interests, some sections of the book can be absolutely gripping, other sections can be interesting to varying degrees and, inevitably, certain section can be rather, well, boring. This was certainly my experience. The author's many discussions include some about communities, tribes, groups, religious sects, etc., that I had never heard of before. Consequently, although I was occasionally confused while trying to keep track of all of these "strange" names, I did learned quite a bit.

The writing style is scholarly, accessible, clear and often quite detailed. Although this tome has at least something for just about every type of history enthusiast, those who, I believe, will enjoy the book the most are those with a passion for the Mediterranean Sea, its peoples and its history throughout the ages.
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