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1616: The World in Motion

Overview


The world of 1616 was a world of motion. Enormous galleons carrying silk and silver across the Pacific created the first true global economy, and the first international megacorporations were emerging as economic powers. In Europe, the deaths of Shakespeare and Cervantes marked the end of an era in literature, as the spirit of the Renaissance was giving way to new attitudes that would lead to the Age of Revolution. Great changes were also taking place in East Asia, where the last native Chinese dynasty was ...
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1616: The World in Motion

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Overview


The world of 1616 was a world of motion. Enormous galleons carrying silk and silver across the Pacific created the first true global economy, and the first international megacorporations were emerging as economic powers. In Europe, the deaths of Shakespeare and Cervantes marked the end of an era in literature, as the spirit of the Renaissance was giving way to new attitudes that would lead to the Age of Revolution. Great changes were also taking place in East Asia, where the last native Chinese dynasty was entering its final years and Japan was beginning its long period of warrior rule. Artists there, as in many parts of the world, were rethinking their connections to ancient traditions and experimenting with new directions. Women everywhere were redefining their roles in family and society. Slave trading was relocating large numbers of people, while others were migrating in search of new opportunities. The first tourists, traveling not for trade or exploration but for personal fulfillment, were exploring this new globalized world.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the outset, Christensen confesses his lack of academic standing to write history, given his background as a translator (Like Water for Chocolate, with Carol Christensen) and editor and director of publications at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum. Nevertheless, he has created a stunning overview of the nascent modern world through a thematic exploration of the year 1616. Christensen’s interweaves various narratives to describe such trends as the increasing roles of private corporations like the Dutch East India Company and of economics in world politics or the emerging voices of women as writers—such as Dorothy Leigh, whose The Mother’s Blessing had 23 printings—and occasionally powerful participants in statecraft, like Nur Jahan, who aided her husband in ruling the Mughal empire. Juxtaposing concurrent growths in witch hunting and scientific discoveries, Christensen points out that Kepler calculated the laws of planetary motion while also defending his mother, an illiterate herbalist, against witchcraft charges. Careful to include events from around the world, not just Europe and the Americas, Christensen enhances his excellent explications of backgrounds and settings with dozens of fabulous illustrations. Most readers will want an atlas to track the action in 1616’s “world in motion.” (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
A well-researched and entertaining but somewhat scattershot look at a single watershed year in history and how its upheaval changed the world. The year 1616 experienced numerous small transformations, writes Christensen (Worse Than a Monolith: Alliance Politics and Problems of Coercive Diplomacy in Asia, 2011, etc.). Because the author doesn't focus on just one country or individual, he is able to look at world events more broadly than other history books that tackle the same period. Addressing economics, the role of women, art, science and more, Christensen discusses disparate geographic areas jointly, connecting Europe with the Mughal Empire in India and beyond. However, this structure also has a significant drawback: the lack of an overarching narrative. Each chapter is a set of stories illustrating Christensen's central thesis of "a world in motion," but even with his commentary these accounts don't always coalesce into an ordered history. As a result, the narrative tends to meander and lose momentum. The challenge of writing a book of such broad scope is that the organization must be meticulous, and Christensen doesn't fully succeed. However, he was clearly scrupulous about the research, and he discusses the material with the authority of an expert. The illustrations, photos, timeline and selected reading section also enhance reader understanding of the issues at play. "I hope that in the book…readers will find some fraction of the enthusiasm that I felt in reliving the year 1616," he writes. In that he succeeds. Despite organizational issues, Christensen provides interesting anecdotes and a unique reading experience. The book comes together more as a series of historical vignettes than as a comprehensive history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781619020672
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 1/15/2013
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 955,420
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Thomas Christensen’s previous books include New World/New Words: Recent Writing from the Americas, A Bilingual Anthology, The U.S.–Mexican War, and The Discovery of America and Other Myths as well as translations of books by such authors as Laura Esquivel, Carlos Fuentes, Julio Cortázar, Alejo Carpentier and Louis-Ferdinand Céline. He is director of publications at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco and lives with his wife in Richmond, California.
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Table of Contents

Preface 9

Prologue: The Golden Age Restored 13

1 Silk and Silver: A Global Economy 33

2 Shakespeare's Sisters: Emerging Roles for Women 83

3 Creative Imitation: Tradition and Innovation in the Visual Arts 133

4 Witch Hunters and Truth Seekers: Science, Signs, and Secret Knowledge 187

5 World in Motion: E Pur Si Muove 253

Epilogue: Christmas, His Masque 355

Timeline 356

Globes 358

Source Notes 361

Selected Reading 369

Acknowledgments 379

Index 380

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