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Empires of the Monsoon: A History of the Indian Ocean and Its Invaders

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Until Vasco da Gama discovered the sea-route to the East in 1497-9 almost nothing was known in the West of the exotic cultures and wealth of the Indian Ocean and its peoples. It is this civilization and its destruction at the hands of the West that Richard Hall recreates in this book. Hall's history of the exploration and exploitation by Chinese and Arab travellers, and by Until Vasco da Gama discovered the sea-route to the East in 1497-9 almost nothing was known in the West of the exotic cultures and wealth of the Indian Ocean and its peoples. It is this civilization and its destruction at the hands of the West that Richard Hall recreates in this book. Hall's history of the exploration and exploitation by Chinese and Arab travellers, and by the Portuguese, Dutch and British alike is one of brutality, betrayal and colonial ambition.


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Until Vasco da Gama discovered the sea-route to the East in 1497-9 almost nothing was known in the West of the exotic cultures and wealth of the Indian Ocean and its peoples. It is this civilization and its destruction at the hands of the West that Richard Hall recreates in this book. Hall's history of the exploration and exploitation by Chinese and Arab travellers, and by Until Vasco da Gama discovered the sea-route to the East in 1497-9 almost nothing was known in the West of the exotic cultures and wealth of the Indian Ocean and its peoples. It is this civilization and its destruction at the hands of the West that Richard Hall recreates in this book. Hall's history of the exploration and exploitation by Chinese and Arab travellers, and by the Portuguese, Dutch and British alike is one of brutality, betrayal and colonial ambition.

30 review for Empires of the Monsoon: A History of the Indian Ocean and Its Invaders

  1. 4 out of 5

    فهد الفهد

    إمبراطوريات الرياح الموسمية حصلت على هذا الكتاب منذ سنوات بعيدة، ورغم حماستي له بقي مركوناً كل هذه الأعوام، ربما لحجمه المهيب، وربما لأنني رغبت في تأخيره لأيام أكون فيها متفرغاً أكثر، ولكنني تعلمت أنه لا يوجد أيام بيضاء، ولا يوجد أوقات أفضل، هي اللحظة الحاضرة إما أغتنمها أو تضيع، فلذا أحاول الآن اللحاق ونفض الغبار عن كتبي الأثيرة. في سبعمئة صفحة، وعلى مدار ألف عام يركز ريتشارد هول على تاريخ المحيط الهندي، وتاريخ الموانئ التي كانت تستفيد من رياحه الموسمية في التجارة ما بين شرق المحيط حيث الهند وا إمبراطوريات الرياح الموسمية حصلت على هذا الكتاب منذ سنوات بعيدة، ورغم حماستي له بقي مركوناً كل هذه الأعوام، ربما لحجمه المهيب، وربما لأنني رغبت في تأخيره لأيام أكون فيها متفرغاً أكثر، ولكنني تعلمت أنه لا يوجد أيام بيضاء، ولا يوجد أوقات أفضل، هي اللحظة الحاضرة إما أغتنمها أو تضيع، فلذا أحاول الآن اللحاق ونفض الغبار عن كتبي الأثيرة. في سبعمئة صفحة، وعلى مدار ألف عام يركز ريتشارد هول على تاريخ المحيط الهندي، وتاريخ الموانئ التي كانت تستفيد من رياحه الموسمية في التجارة ما بين شرق المحيط حيث الهند والصين وكل تلك الجزر التي صارت الآن الفلبين وإندونيسيا وماليزيا، وغربه حيث موانئ جزيرة العرب وأفريقيا، ابتداءً من مسقط وعدن وكلوة وسفالة وممباسا، إنه تاريخ مهيب يحاول هول نقله لنا بكل تغيراته منذ أيام ماركو بولو وابن بطوطة، فوصول البرتغاليين وكل الفظائع التي جروها على المنطقة، ومن بعدهم الهولنديين والفرنسيين والإنجليز، يفرد فصول لمحاولات الأوربيين اكتشاف أفريقيا، وبحثهم عن مملكة الراهب يوحنا الأسطورية والذي كانوا يريدون التحالف معه للانقضاض على الإسلام من الشرق والغرب، كل هذا التاريخ شبه المجهول لي على الأقل، وربما للكثير من القراء العرب، يبسطه ريتشارد هول بجمال، يجعل من قراءة هذا الكتاب متعة فائقة، شيء يشبه حكاية خيالية صاغها كاتب عبقري.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Arthur

    Absolutely brilliant read. The amount of detail and research done to compile this book is outstanding.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    This is a not deep but it is thorough. I feel like the importance of the ancient and early modern traffic among India, East Africa and Oman is an often overlooked topic in world history. This book covers most of the important events from first century CE to the nineteenth century. An excellent, readable overview with lots of good references to additional readings.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Daniel B-G

    Disappointing. It's inevitable with books like this that the pre-European history tends to be a quick retelling of Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta, moving swiftly on to the bit after the Europeans arrived and started documenting their unspeakable cruelty. Nevertheless, I was hoping for more about the empires and less about the Europeans. Furthermore, there is relatively limited analysis of the social conditions at any point, the currents that caused this. This is mostly big characters, doing terrible Disappointing. It's inevitable with books like this that the pre-European history tends to be a quick retelling of Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta, moving swiftly on to the bit after the Europeans arrived and started documenting their unspeakable cruelty. Nevertheless, I was hoping for more about the empires and less about the Europeans. Furthermore, there is relatively limited analysis of the social conditions at any point, the currents that caused this. This is mostly big characters, doing terrible things, a big man style history with it's eye on the derring-do and not the less showy and generally more enlightening study of institutions and structures.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Anne Chappel

    One of my all time favourite history books. Well written and great research. You will not be disappointed in this fascinating examination of the world of the monsoons in the Indian Ocean. I regard this book as an essential reference book in my personal library.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    Superb coverage of early European exploration and colonisation of the Indian Ocean area. Contains many little-known details that are integrated beautifully into this robust and honest (and brutal) history of the region. No holds are barred in recounting the ruthlessness of the age and the travesties against the peoples of the region as they were slaughtered, brutalised and/or enslaved by the region's intruders. However, we soon find that the Europeans were not singular in their practices, many o Superb coverage of early European exploration and colonisation of the Indian Ocean area. Contains many little-known details that are integrated beautifully into this robust and honest (and brutal) history of the region. No holds are barred in recounting the ruthlessness of the age and the travesties against the peoples of the region as they were slaughtered, brutalised and/or enslaved by the region's intruders. However, we soon find that the Europeans were not singular in their practices, many other kingdoms and states also considered Africa and the weaker states of the region hunting grounds for riches and slaves. The latter third of the book pays particular attention to the colonisation of East Africa and fills a void in many western readers' knowledge of the region. This is a book to be read and re-read and in which I have stuck many little tabs to highlight details I know I will want to refer back to (as this is a particular area of interest to me). The illustrations are excellent and I wished there were more. There is also a 20-page index to help you find your way to information about specific individuals and some events, but it could have been even more robust. For example, while there is considerable information about the importance of Oman as a powerful ship-building and sea-going nation, and Christianity in Ethiopia, there are no index entries under 'Oman' or 'Ethiopia' to help you find your way back to them. If there is ever an updated edition, I petition the author for a more extensive index as the text is so rich, it deserves more accessibility. The end notes are interesting but rarely give the source of textual information, which many readers will miss. There is, however, an excellent bibliography broken down into sub-subjects as they relate to the book's chapters (helpful in identifying relevant additional reading).

  7. 4 out of 5

    René

    An excellent overview of the long and, often, violent history of the civilizations living from the richness of the Indian Ocean, no holds barred (the early European explorers, whose exploits made them heroes in Eurocentric history books, were nothing but blood-thirsty savages). The last third of the book is more centered around Africa and forgets the other half of the Indian Ocean, but as it covers some of the ground not covered in other African history books, it still makes for riveting reading An excellent overview of the long and, often, violent history of the civilizations living from the richness of the Indian Ocean, no holds barred (the early European explorers, whose exploits made them heroes in Eurocentric history books, were nothing but blood-thirsty savages). The last third of the book is more centered around Africa and forgets the other half of the Indian Ocean, but as it covers some of the ground not covered in other African history books, it still makes for riveting reading.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    Excellent first read about the fascinating history of the Indian Ocean and a good antidote tot he anglo-centric history of Africa that we grew up with. It details the trade and commerce between the Eastern seaboard of Africa over the last thousand years. Highly recommended.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alvin Wong

    excellent history of the Indian Ocean rim, even more relevant in current context

  10. 4 out of 5

    J

    Excellent overview of history of the Indian Ocean and the lands surrounding it. Probably one of the best overall books on history I've read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    A must for anybody visiting east Africa. I just re-read this and will do again.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Naomi

    Xmas 2007

  13. 5 out of 5

    David Sachs

  14. 4 out of 5

    Charles W

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nikhil

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

  17. 4 out of 5

    Deema

  18. 5 out of 5

    Curt Eriksen

  19. 5 out of 5

    Clair Crawford

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karen Thaens

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nate Dominy

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed Salah Zeyada

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

  24. 4 out of 5

    Indranil Banerjie

  25. 4 out of 5

    ReNu

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ruhi

  29. 4 out of 5

    Paul Rollin

  30. 5 out of 5

    Simon

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