Book Review: ‘The Sea in History: The early modern world’ by Benjamin W. D. Redding
In many regards, Océanides, from which this text is a product, is a leading programme that ensures that maritime history has a prominent role in the popular discipline of spatial studies. Its main objective, developed in 2010, has anthropological under-pinnings by seeking to determine the sea’s role in the ‘diversification and development of populations’. This is certainly ambitious, even with its 260 researchers spanning 40 countries. The programme is after all a global one that covers the ancient world to the modern day, and the four volumes of The Sea in History are its findings (the other volumes were reviewed in Mariner’s Mirror 103(3), 349 and 104(1), 95 and 109).
The Sea in History: The early modern world is the third book in this collection and is in itself highly ambitious. The text defines the early modern period as beginning at the end of the fifteenth century with the great global discoveries and closing in 1815 with the Congress of Vienna. In a period of global exploration, the origins of consumerism, state development, scientific discoveries and military expansion, the many contributors to this volume have plenty to discuss. The text consists of seventy-five short articles; 42 are written in French, with the remainder in English. Its introduction and conclusion written by Gérard Le Bouëdec are produced in both languages, as are the abstracts for each contribution. As a result this volume is slightly over 1,000 pages in length.