How did England go from a position of inferiority to the powerful Spanish empire to achieve global pre-eminence? In this important second book, Alison Games, a colonial American historian, explores the period from 1560 to 1660, when England challenged dominion over the American continents, established new long-distance trade routes in the eastern Mediterranean and the East Indies, and emerged in the 17th century as an empire to reckon with. Games discusses such topics as the men and women who built the colonial enterprise, the political and fiscal factors that made such growth possible, and domestic politics that fueled commercial expansion. Her cast of characters includes soldiers and diplomats, merchants and mariners, ministers and colonists, governors and tourists, revealing the surprising breath of foreign experiences ordinary English people had in this period. This book is also unusual in stretching outside Europe to include Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. A comparative imperial study and expansive world history, this book makes a lasting argument about the formative years of the English empire.