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Empire: How Spain Became a World Power, 1492-1763

Empire: How Spain Became a World Power, 1492-1763
Author: Henry Kamen
ISBN 13: 9780060932640
ISBN 10: 60932643
Edition: N/A
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: 2004-02-17
Format: Paperback
Pages: 640
List Price: $19.99

This book was published as Spain's Road to Empire by Penguin in 2002. Kamen's historical analysis of the two and a half centuries in which the Spanish Empire ruled the world portrays Spain as a global enterprise that grew because of collaboration with German technicians, Dutch traders, and Italian financiers who helped create a vast network of contacts ranging across the oceans. Kamen (Higher Council for Scientific Research, Barcelona) further asserts that the empire could not have functioned without the support of non-Spaniards including Basque, Aztec, Chinese, Flemish, and West African influences. The book contains several maps and color photos of paintings. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Publishers Weekly

Whether the term "globalization" is defined as the global imposition of a hegemonic culture or as a more creative dynamic of global interactivity, it's nothing new-it can be traced at least as far back as the Spanish Empire of the 16th and 17th centuries. Kamen (The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision) depicts this golden age globalization on a suitably grand canvas, tracing the surprisingly hesitant and serendipitous spread of empire from Naples to Manila. He demonstrates to superb effect that this empire was in its very origins a truly multinational enterprise in which the Spanish element was one among many. This element, he suggests, was wholly-if understandably-distorted by contemporary propagandists. In reality, without Genoese bankers, expansionism into the Canary Islands (and Italy itself) would have been unworkable; without Muslim agency, Granada would not have fallen, nor Tenochtitlan without indigenous collaboration; there were Greeks, Netherlanders and at least two blacks in the party that conquered the Aztec capital. Like David Northrup in his recent study, Africa's Discovery of Europe, Kamen restores agency to those who have been relegated to victim status: the black people who helped forge colonial society, and the indigenous peoples of the Americas. While he recognizes that empire catalyzed Spanish patriotism, not least a regressive nostalgia among settlers in the New World, he observes that among those who cried out "Espa$a!" at the battle of Muhlberg (1547) were crack Hungarian cavalry. While memories of empire (not quite so dead as Kamen claims) continue to shape Spanish culture, and as new forms of global imperialism develop, this sophisticated and broad-minded book could not be more timely. 16 pages of color illus., 11 b&w photos. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.